Malaysia investigates Alstom bribery allegations
Malaysia's anti-graft watchdog on Thursday said it had launched a probe into bribery allegations against French industrial group Alstom that have already drawn a hefty fine by Swiss authorities.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement it had "initiated an investigation" but would release no further information for now to prevent "speculation and wrong perceptions of the parties concerned".
"The MACC wishes to stress that all allegations of corruption will be seriously looked into and the commission will investigate without fear or favour," it added.
The statement was an apparent response to recent local media reports that said agency investigators last week visited the offices of a Malaysian power plant company, Teknologi Tenaga Perlis Consortium (TTPC), over the scandal.
The reports said authorities were acting on suspicions that a former TTPC official took bribes from Alstom to gain a contract for the construction of a power plant in northwestern Malaysia in the 1990s.
The Swiss attorney general's office last month ordered a unit of Alstom to pay 31 million euros ($42 million) in fines over allegations that it offered bribes and kickbacks in Malaysia, Latvia and Tunisia.
The bribes were allegedly offered to middlemen and officials with the aim of securing government contracts to build power plants.
A statement sent to AFP by Alstom's office in Malaysia this week denied any "systematic bribery" in the company's operations, saying it was "a victim of the misconduct of its employees", but declined to give further specifics.
Anti-corruption group Transparency International on Wednesday publicly called on the MACC to look into the Malaysian bribery allegations.
Transparency International said in an annual ranking of the least corrupt countries released earlier this month that Malaysia had slipped nearly 30 spots over the past decade and now ranked 60th out of 183 countries.
It cited irregularities in awarding bids for large projects and cozy relations between the country's corporate and political spheres.
© 2011 AFP