Alstom Faces Prosecutors as Bribery Case Set to Begin

Alstom SA paid about 6.6 million euros ($8.5 million) in bribes over a six-year period to win transport contracts, according to filings from U.K. prosecutors released ahead of the case’s first court hearing today.

Alstom’s U.K. unit, which was charged with corruption and conspiracy to corrupt in July, paid bribes in India, Poland and Tunisia between 2000 and 2006, according to the court listing, detailing six charges by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.

If successfully prosecuted, Alstom’s transport business could face penalties ranging from a fine to a ban from competing for public contracts in the European Union. The French engineering company is relying on orders from governments as it’s focusing on its train-making operations after General Electric Co. bought most of Alstom’s energy assets in a $17 billion deal.

The SFO said in the court filing that Alstom paid about 3.4 million euros to win train control, signaling and telecommunications orders for the Delhi Metro. The prosecutors also alleged the French company paid about 824,000 euros to secure an order for 62 trams in Warsaw and about 2.4 million euros for 30 trams and infrastructure work in the city of Tunis. The company made the payments under “consultancy agreements,” according to the listing.

The case was transferred today to a higher criminal court in London for another hearing on Oct. 6. An Alstom spokeswoman declined to comment on the U.K. investigation.

Executive Arrests

The SFO began investigating Alstom, which is based in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, in 2009 and arrested three members of the company’s board in the U.K. in 2010. While the London agency dropped the case against them, prosecutors told several former Alstom employees they’ll be charged as part of the case against the French train-maker, two people with knowledge of the situation said in July.

The SFO has been plagued by failures in recent years including claims by Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz, property tycoons who sued the agency for illegal searches. They secured

4.5 million pounds ($7.3 million), plus legal costs, in settlements in July.

The sale of Alstom’s 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.

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