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Alstom Charged by U.K. SFO With Corruption, Conspiracy

Alstom SA, the French engineering company which is selling most of its energy-equipment businesses to General Electric Co. to focus on train-making operations, was charged with corruption by U.K. prosecutors after a five-year investigation.

The Serious Fraud Office announced six charges of corruption and conspiracy to corrupt against Alstom’s U.K. subsidiary, according to a statement today from the agency. The offenses allegedly occurred in relation to transport projects in India, Poland and Tunisia, the SFO said.

Alstom is “in ongoing communications with the SFO about its investigation and will continue to work with the SFO to seek a fair and appropriate resolution,” the Levallois-Perret, France-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

The SFO began investigating Alstom in 2009 and arrested three members of the company’s board in the U.K. in 2010. While the London agency dropped that case, it may charge other individuals in relation to the probe shortly after deciding on whether to pursue the company, three people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

The alleged offenses are said to have taken place between June 2000 and November 2006, according to the SFO statement. The first hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9, at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

The SFO is under pressure to bring a successful prosecution after a number of failures. The agency dropped a high-profile case against British businessman Victor Dahdaleh in December and faces a 300 million-pound ($510.5 million) lawsuit by U.K. property magnates Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, whose offices were illegally raided by the white-collar-crime prosecutor in

2011.

The 12.35 billion-euro ($16.6 billion) sale of its energy assets to GE was the Connecticut-based company’s biggest acquisition. The French company plans to use some of the proceeds to expand its rail division, reduce debt and reward shareholders.

A GE spokesman declined to comment on the SFO’s move.

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