Marubeni Pleads Guilty to U.S. Bribery Charges

Marubeni Corp. agreed to pay $88 million and pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that it bribed Indonesian officials to win an electricity contract as part of a joint venture with French power-equipment maker Alstom SA.

The Chiyoda-Ku, Japan-based commodity-trading company admitted to eight criminal charges for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits paying government officials to win or keep business, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a statement.

“The company refused to play by the rules, then refused to cooperate with the government’s investigation,” Raman said. “Now Marubeni faces the consequences for its crooked business practices in Indonesia.”

The agreement is part of the government’s investigation of Alstom over possible improper payments made to win business. Two ex-Alstom executives have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and another is scheduled to go to trial in June.

“Marubeni has undertaken extensive efforts to enhance its anti-corruption compliance program, and believes that its current program is robust and effect,” the company said in a statement today.

The Alstom employees hired consultants to funnel “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to a member of the Indonesian Parliament and officials of a state-owned electricity company, according to prosecutors.

Marubeni on Feb. 26 was released from a two-year deferred prosecution agreement for its role in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian officials to win $6 billion in contracts to build and expand a liquefied natural-gas plant on Bonny Island. That case, which was filed in January 2012, makes no mention of the company’s involvement in the Alstom matter.

Marubeni said today’s resolution, which requires approval by a federal judge, shouldn’t have a material effect on the business forecast it announced last month. The company is scheduled to be sentenced May 15 at federal court in Connecticut.

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