Alstom SA is close to settling a criminal bribery investigation with the DOJ for $700 million, Tom Schoenberg of Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
The report cited “three people familiar with the matter.”
The settlement would remove an obstacle for GE’s acquisition of Alstom’s energy assets for €12.4 billion ($15.6 billion). The companies agreed to the deal in June.
A $700 million penalty would be the biggest criminal FCPA fine and the second biggest FCPA enforcement action. In 2008, Siemens paid the DOJ a $450 million criminal fine. And it paid the SEC $350 million to resolve civil FCPA charges. That $800 million enforcement action ranks first on the FCPA Blog top ten list.
Alstom isn’t subject to SEC enforcement because it has no shares trading on U.S. exchanges and isn’t an issuer.
“A settlement could be announced as early as next week, said one of [Bloomberg’s sources], all of whom asked not to be identified because the accord isn’t final,” Bloomberg said.
In September, a UK subsidiary of Paris-based Alstom went on trial. The Serious Fraud Office alleged that the company paid $8.5 million in bribes for contracts in India, Poland, and Tunisia. The trial is ongoing.
The SFO charged Alstom Network UK with six offenses of corruption and conspiracy to corrupt. The SFO said the company paid bribes for work on the Delhi Metro and tram and infrastructure projects in Warsaw and Tunis between 2000 and 2006.
Marubeni Corporation, Alstom’s consortium partner on the Indonesia project, pleaded guilty in March this year to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and seven counts of violating the FCPA.
The Japanese trading company paid a criminal fine of $88 million.
The SFO’s five-year investigation started when the attorney general of Switzerland provided information about Alstom’s UK unit.
In 2010, the SFO arrested three Alstom UK executives after police raided offices and residential addresses in London and six other locations.
In 2008, Swiss police arrested a former Alstom manager and searched for evidence as part of a corruption and money-laundering investigation. Offices near Zurich and in Baden were raided, along with homes in several cantons.
The Swiss attorney general fined Alstom about $40 million in 2011 for corporate negligence for failing to stop overseas bribery.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.