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    Three Alstom directors arrested in corruption raid


    March 24, 2010 -- Three UK-based board directors of Alstom, the French rail engineering giant, were arrested this morning on suspicion of bribery and corruption, conspiracy to pay bribes, money laundering and false accounting. The directors, who are aged 44, 51 and 52 and work within UK subsidiaries of the company, are being interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) at several police stations around the country after a dawn raid at five o’clock this morning. Police and the SFO raided nine sites, including Alstom’s business premises and home addresses in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and London. The operation involved 109 SFO staff and 44 police officers and financial investigators from Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces and the Metropolitan Police.

    The SFO said that the investigation — codenamed Operation Ruthenium — is into the suspected payment of bribes by companies within the Alstom group in the UK. The three executives were on the boards of Alstom UK Holdings Ltd, Alstom Ltd and Alstom Network UK Ltd. The SFO said: "It is suspected that bribes have been paid in order to win contracts overseas, and that this has involved associated money laundering and other offences." The SFO said that it had been working closely with police in Switzerland. Nearly two years ago, in August 2008, Alstom admitted that Swiss regulators had interviewed Alstom's staff in Switzerland as part of an investigation into bribery allegations. At the time it said that Alstom itself was not the target of the investigation. However, reports at the time said that the group was being investigated by French and Swiss authorities over alleged bribery payments made between 1995 and 2003 in order to win contracts in Asia and South America. There were suspected payments of $6.8 million (£3.5 million) to win a $45 million contract to install equipment for the expansion of a subway in São Paulo, and investigators were also said to be looking into $200 million in suspicious payments made in relation to other projects in South America and Asia.

    The investigation was sparked by auditors at KPMG Fides Peat in Switzerland working for the Swiss Federal Banking Commission in 2004 after they stumbled upon documents detailing the transfer of €20 million by Alstom into various shell companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. Commenting on today’s action, Richard Alderman, the SFO director, said: “The SFO is committed to tackling corruption. We are working closely with other criminal justice organisations across the world and are taking steps to encourage companies to report any suspicions of corruption, either within their own business or by other companies or individuals.”

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    Mercredi 24 Mars 2010 -- Trois des plus hauts dirigeants de la filiale britannique du français Alstom, dont son président, ont été arrêtés dans le cadre d'une enquête pour corruption, pots-de-vins et blanchiment d'argent, a annoncé le Serious Fraud Office (SFO, l'office britannique de lutte contre la délinquance financière) dans un communiqué. Le président d'Alstom UK, son directeur juridique et son directeur financier ont été arrêtés dans le cadre d'une "enquête en cours par la justice fédérale suisse", a indiqué à Paris le directeur de la communication du groupe, Patrick Bessy. Les trois hommes de 52, 51 et 44 ans ont été conduits dans des postes de police pour être interrogés par le SFO, a indiqué l'office dans un communiqué.

    L'enquête concerne plusieurs volets, en Suisse et au Royaume-Uni. En Grande-Bretagne, le SFO a précisé que les soupçons pesaient sur des "pots-de-vin versés par des sociétés au sein du groupe Alstom au Royaume-Uni... afin d'obtenir des contrats à l'étranger et cela a impliqué du blanchiment d'argent et d'autres infractions", a précisé le SFO, ajoutant avoir collaboré avec la police fédérale en Suisse. Le directeur de la communication d'Alstom a précisé que ces arrestations étaient "le prolongement d'une enquête ouverte en Suisse il y a plus de 3 ans". "Elle n'a débouché pour le moment sur aucune décision de justice", a-t-il ajouté. Le groupe français Alstom est spécialisé dans les infrastructures de production d'électricité et de transport ferroviaire. Il est présent dans plus de 70 pays, emploie plus de 80.000 personnes dans le monde et affiche un chiffre d'affaires annuel de 18,7 milliards d'euros.

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