1:56 pm - Monday November 9, 2015

MNC giant paid bribe to win Delhi Metro contract, UK prosecutor says

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LONDON/NEW DELHI: The British subsidiary of French train and turbine maker Alstom paid around $8.5 million (nearly Rs 52 crore) in bribes over a six-year period to win transport contracts in India, Poland and Tunisia, Britain’s leading fraud prosecutor alleged on Tuesday.

Alstom Network UK, which was charged with six offences of corruption and conspiracy to corrupt in July, allegedly paid bribes to win infrastructure orders for Delhi Metro between 2000 and 2006. It also bribed its way to tram and infrastructure deals in Warsaw and Tunis in the same period.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which has been investigating Alstom for five years as part of an international criminal inquiry into alleged corruption, said in legal filings published after the first London court hearing on Tuesday that the Alstom unit disguised corrupt payments as consultancy agreements.

An urban development ministry spokesperson said they had not yet got any official communication. “Once we receive the report through official communication, we will seek a detailed explanation from DMRC within a fixed timeframe,” he said.
Another official in the ministry said the government could ask DMRC to conduct a detailed inquiry into the alleged bribery though it allegedly happened between 2000 and 2006.

These agreements were struck by Alstom Network UK, certain directors and others with Indo European Ventures Pte Ltd and Global King Technology Ltd in India, the SFO said.

The case comes at a tricky time for the French parent, which has agreed a $16.9 billion sale of most of its power business to US conglomerate General Electric in a deal that gives the French government an option to become a shareholder.

Parent Alstom stressed that the charges related to past misconduct. “The company has been in communication with the SFO and seeks no more than a fair and appropriate resolution of the allegations made,” a spokeswoman said.

If convicted, Alstom Network UK faces fines or a ban from competing for public contracts in the European Union. Its next court hearing at the higher Southwark Crown Court is scheduled for October 6.

The British investigation was spawned by information from the Swiss attorney general, which ordered Alstom to pay $41 million for corporate negligence in 2011 because it had failed to stop bribery.

Three executives of Alstom’s US unit in Connecticut have since pleaded guilty and admitted paying bribes on behalf of the company. Four years ago, the SFO arrested three UK board members over allegations of bribery, money laundering and false accounting.

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