French firm Alstom targeted by corruption probe
French and Swiss authorities have launched investigations against the firm on suspicion that it paid bribes to win contracts, confirm police sources.7 May 2008
PARIS - French judicial and police sources on Tuesday confirmed a newspaper report that French engineering giant Alstom SA was the target of a corruption investigation, France Info radio reported.
The investigation was opened at the beginning of November 2007 by the public prosecutor's office of Paris on possible charges of corrupting foreign public officials and misappropriation of state funds.
The report confirmed a story published earlier on Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal that French and Swiss authorities had launched parallel investigations against Alstom on suspicion that it had paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to win contracts in Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela and Brazil between 1995 and 2003.
According to the report, Swiss and Brazilian police met last week to discuss a payment of USD 6.8 million that Alstom allegedly made to win a USD 45-million-contract to expand the Sao Paolo underground.
However, the company allegedly also paid some USD 200 million in bribes to win contracts for infrastructure and hydroelectric construction in South America and Asia, the newspaper reported.
A spokesman for Alstom denied the report.
"There is no judicial procedure targeting Alstom on suspicion of corruption," a spokesman for the company told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
This is strictly speaking true, since the investigation is being carried out against "unknown parties," a judicial formality in France.
The Alstom spokesman admitted that police had searched the company's offices recently but insisted that the search had nothing to do with its own affairs.
He said that the Wall Street Journal article "simply repeated statements made several months ago in German and Swiss newspapers".
[dpa / Expatica]