PARIS - Andreas Sperl, the former chief financial officer of Airbus and current head of EADS's Dresden plant in Germany, was detained by French police yesterday as part of an insider trading probe, his lawyer said.
Sperl is the fourth person to be detained in the investigation of Airbus parent EADS, and the first who still is employed by the company.
French authorities have already filed preliminary charges against three former EADS executives - former cochief executive Noel Forgeard, Jean-Paul Gut, former deputy chief executive who oversaw strategy, and Gustav Humbert, a former Airbus president.
France has two related investigation, one by the Paris prosecutor and one by the AMF, the Financial Markets Authority.
Investigators are looking at share sales at EADS before a June 2006 disclosure of delays for Airbus' A380 superjumbo that sent shares of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV tumbling.
Sperl is one of 17 people suspected by the AMF of possible insider trading. According to the AMF, Sperl sold 58,800 shares in November 2005 and March 2006 for a gross gain of $1.2 million.
EADS spokesman Markus Woelfle confirmed Sperl is being questioned. "He has to be innocent until proven otherwise," he said.
Sperl's lawyer, Christian Curtil, said: "He will respond to questions that will be asked of him. He is following the movements of all the other" executives who have been named by the AMF.
Two other Germans including Thomas Enders, head of Airbus, and Stefan Zoller, head of EADS defense and security division, are also being targeted in the AMF probe.