Aerospace and defence group, SAFRAN, and two former executives, Mr Jean-Pierre Delarue and Mr Francois Perrachon, have been accused of bribing Nigerian officials.

The alleged offences were carried out by former electronics firm SAGEM, which merged with SNECMA to create SAFRAN in 2005.

In 2001, SAGEM executives allegedly paid Nigerian officials bribes ranging from $30,000 to $500,000 in return for securing a $214m identity card contract.

Mr Perrachon’s lawyer has called for an acquittal, saying: “We are putting on trial two employees at the bottom of the hierarchy … (who) had no interest in acting alone to corrupt”.