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US fines Alstom record USD 772 mn in foreign bribery charges

A money changer counts U.S. dollar bills at a currency exchange office in central Istanbul

Washington: The US has fined French multinational Alstom SA, a record USD 772 million over international bribery charges in which the energy and transport giant bribed government officials in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Taiwan.

Alstom, which got a multi-billion contract in India to supply 800 railway engines to the Indian Railways this week had earlier pleaded guilty to the charges.

Its widespread corruption scheme involved at least USD 75 million in secret bribes paid to government officials in countries around the world, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Bahamas and Taiwan.

A Connecticut district court judge yesterday formally sentenced the company to pay the fine, a record under the act, after it was agreed in December 2014 in plea negotiations.

Alstom through various units including some with a US presence, “paid bribes to government officials and falsified books and records in connection with power, grid and transportation projects for state-owned entities around the world,” the Justice Department said.

In its guilty plea, the company acknowledged having paid bribes to government officials and falsified books and records in connection with power, grid and transportation projects for state-owned entities around the world.

In total, Alstom paid more than USD 75 million to secure more than USD 4 billion in projects around the world, with a profit to the company of approximately USD 300 million.

In Indonesia, for example, Alstom, Alstom Prom and Alstom Power paid bribes to government officials, including a high-ranking member of the Indonesian Parliament and high-ranking members of Perusahaan Listrik Negara, the state-owned electricity company in Indonesia in exchange for assistance in securing several contracts to provide power-related services valued at approximately USD375 million.

Alstom and its subsidiaries also attempted to conceal the bribery scheme by retaining consultants who purportedly provided consulting services on behalf of the companies, but who actually served as conduits for corrupt payments to the government officials.

Internal Alstom documents refer to some of the consultants in code, including “Mr Geneva,” “Mr Paris,” “London,” “Quiet Man” and “Old Friend,” the justice department said.