Police raid France's Thales in corruption probe

21st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 21 (AFP) - French police have raided the headquarters of French defence electronics group Thales as part of a probe into corruption allegations by a former executive of the group.

PARIS, Dec 21 (AFP) - French police have raided the headquarters of French defence electronics group Thales as part of a probe into corruption allegations by a former executive of the group.

The raid, mid-Tuesday, was carried out by around 10 police officers with investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, sources close to the inquiry said.

Michel Josserand, former head of Thales' engineering and consulting unit, accused Thales of corrupt practices during an investigation into the attribution of contracts for a tramway system under construction in the French town of Nice.

Magistrates in Paris opened an investigation in July as a result of Josserand's claims.

But in a newspaper interview later in September, he gave a detailed description of the alleged system, accusing the company of organising a centralised slush fund to bribe and corrupt officials to win contracts.

At the time the company issued a formal denial of the allegations, stressing that Josserand had been sacked for his involvement in "irregularities".

A company spokesman said on Tuesday Thales was offering its full cooperation, but declined to give details of the raid.

"Thales intends to totally cooperation with the judicial authorities in this matter," the spokesman said.

At the time of the allegations the company filed a complaint against Le Monde, which carried the allegations, and Josserand for defamation.

In comments published by the respected French daily, Josserand alleged that Thales had constructed a secret internal system to pay commissions that totalled as much as two percent of the company's annual sales.

Last year, Thales posted sales of 10.5 billion euros (12.7 billion dollars).

Josserand said the system was known only to a few people in the Thales holding company, Thales International, and the executives at the top of the group.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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