Alstom denies British bribe allegations

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French engineering group Alstom denied on Monday a report that it paid 81 million pounds (97.5 million euros/$126 million) in bribes through its British offshoots.

The Times newspaper reported that Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) suspected Alstom's British executives of bribing public officials to secure contracts, part of a "worldwide bribery plot".

Three Alstom executives were arrested in an SFO probe last year for alleged bribery and corruption, and released without charge.

A company spokesman told AFP that the SFO's probe was baseless, and "Alstom is a company which does not tolerate any corruption".

He said: "The group has a code of ethics and a system of auditing and inspection which prevent any sort of illegal commercial practice."

Alstom had appealed against the methods used by the SFO, which carried out the raids despite lacking proof, the spokesman said.

The Times cited court documents filed by the SFO and the police which said that the SFO had identified 81 million pounds in allegedly corrupt payments from British Alstom entities to foreign officials between 2004 to 2010.

The payments were allegedly disguised as consultancy agreements, the report said.

The SFO probe is linked to a Swiss investigation into bribery allegations dating back to 2008.

Alstom specialises in infrastructure projects in the electricity production and rail sectors. It builds power stations and TGV high-speed trains, and has offices in 70 countries, employing more than 80,000 people.

© 2011 AFP

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