Alstom UK subsidiary fined £16m over corruption charges

Alstom Network UK Ltd is to pay a total of £16.4m over corruption charges relating to a contract to supply trams in Tunisia, comprising £15m in fines and £1.4m in costs, following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO)

The company was convicted in April 2018 of conspiracy to corrupt, having paid an intermediary called Construction et Gestion Nevco Inc. (Nevco) €2.4m (£2m) to secure a €79.9m (£68m) contract with Transtu, the company responsible for running the Tunis Metro.

To satisfy internal compliance checks and make its agreement with Nevco appear a legitimate contract for services, Alstom helped to produce paperwork as ‘evidence’ of services rendered. In reality, the SFO found that Nevco was simply a conduit for bribes.

This was acknowledged by Alstom Network UK itself when it decided not to make a final payment of €240,000 in its original €2.64m contract.

Graham Hill, Robert Hallett and Alstom Network UK were acquitted in the same trial of alleged corruption in relation to transport contracts in India and Poland.

This is the latest sentence in the SFO’s Alstom case, which has seen three individuals, Alstom Network UK Ltd and Alstom Power Ltd convicted of conspiracy to corrupt.

Lisa Osofsky, SFO director, said: ‘This sentencing brings to an end a case which involved cooperation from over 30 countries and concerned conduct across Europe and beyond.

‘It shows that we will work tirelessly with law enforcement around the world to root out bribery and corruption.’

The SFO’s wide-ranging investigation arose from the actions of Alstom subsidiaries in power and transport projects in Europe and around the world. It began in 2009 as a result of information provided by the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland concerning the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK Ltd. 

In addition to the conviction of Alstom Network UK Ltd for bribery in relation to the Tunisian contract, John Venskus, Göran Wikström and Alstom Power Ltd pleaded guilty to bribing senior Lithuanian figures in order to win contracts to upgrade and refit a power station, the Lithuanian Power Plant (LPP), with tenders invited by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Alstom Group companies paid over €5m in bribes to secure this €240m contract. As with the Tunisian conduct, papers were falsified to circumvent checks put in place to prevent bribery by Alstom staff responsible for preventing corruption.

Alstom Power Ltd was fined more than £6m, required to pay nearly £11m in compensation and ordered to pay £700,000 in costs. Venskus received a three year and six month sentence and was ordered to pay £410,000 of costs and Wikström received two years and seven months’ imprisonment and was ordered to pay £40,000 of costs.

A third individual, Nicholas Reynolds, was found guilty by a jury of the same conduct, being sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.

Alstom Network UK and three more individuals – Michael Anderson, Jean-Daniel Lainé and Terrence Watson – were also charged in relation to allegations of bribery over a €229m contract to provide rolling stock for the Budapest Metro System. All defendants were acquitted by a jury in November 2018.

Alstom Network UK Ltd has 28 days to pay the £16.4m.

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