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SFO charges Alstom UK unit for bribes

The Serious Fraud Office said Thursday it has started criminal proceedings “against an Alstom company in the UK by written charge.”

Alstom Network UK Ltd, formerly called Alstom International Ltd, a UK subsidiary of Alstom, was charged with three corruption offenses, and three counts of conspiracy to corrupt.

The SFO said the alleged offenses happened between 2000 and 2006 and “concern large transport projects in India, Poland and Tunisia.”

Paris-based Alstom is a manufacturer in the rail, power, and energy sectors. It has more than 93,000 employees worldwide.

In the United States, three Alstom executives have pleaded guilty to bribing officials in Indonesia to win a power project. Charges are pending against a fourth executive.

Marubeni Corporation, Alstom’s consortium partner on the Indonesia project, pleaded guilty in March this year to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and seven counts of violating the FCPA. The Japanese trading company paid a criminal fine of $88 million. 

SFO director David Green said earlier this week that individuals will be prosecuted after the UK unit is charged.

“Significant developments are imminent — charges are imminent,” he told the Telegraph. “A number of individuals are of acute interest in the investigation.”

The SFO said the first hearing in this case against Alstom Network UK Ltd will be at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 9.

The SFO’s five-year investigation started when the attorney general of Switzerland provided information about Alstom and the UK unit, the SFO said Wednesday.

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 French government last month approved a plan by GE to buy Alstom’s power business for more than $17 billion.

The SFO’s July 24, 2014 release is here.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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