Swiss arrest 1 in Alstom investigation raids
Swiss police raided the premises linked to French engineering company Alstom and arrested one.22 August 2008
BERN -- Swiss police searched premises linked to French engineering company Alstom SA and made one arrest as part of an investigation into suspected corruption and money laundering, federal prosecutors said Friday.
The raids took place across Switzerland on Thursday and included offices belonging to subsidiary Alstom Prom AG in Baden, about 20 kilometres west of Zurich, prosecutors said in a statement.
Several French police officers were present during the raids, officials said.
The arrested individual is suspected of corruption and money laundering, federal prosecutors said. They declined to identify the person.
Simone Ramser, spokeswoman for Alstom in Switzerland, confirmed that the raids had taken place and said the company was working closely with Swiss authorities, but she declined to go into any detail about the investigation or say who was arrested.
Swiss federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation against a former compliance manager of the Alstom Group, who was also a member of the management of Alstom Prom. Several "unknown persons" are also being investigated.
Prosecutors suspect Alstom Prom was used to make payments to foreign officials in order to win international contracts for the Alstom group.
Prosecutors said the raids were not directly linked to other ongoing criminal investigations against persons linked to Alstom.
Walburga Bur, head of communication at the Swiss federal prosecutor's office, said in May that other probes concerned payments linked to the acquisition of infrastructure contracts in South America and Asia. Alstom said at the time "no legal action for any such corruption has been instituted" against it.
A related French inquiry was opened in November 2007, following a tip received by Swiss authorities.
Alstom, a maker of high-speed trains and power stations, was saved from bankruptcy in 2004 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was finance minister then, organised a state bailout for the ailing firm.
[AP / Expatica]