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Alstom faces fresh UK corruption charges
From the Financial Times of Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:12:57 GMT

A UK unit of Alstom, the French conglomerate that is being taken over by General Electric, will face charges in a London court on Monday on fresh counts of corruption along with two former employees.

Alstom Power Ltd is accused by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office of bribery over a power plant in Lithuania, according to a court list seen by the Financial Times relating to Monday’s hearing, where the charges will be announced for the first time at Westminster magistrates’ court.

The SFO has filed two counts of bribery and corruption against the unit; the first time that the agency has accused Alstom’s power division of corruption. The SFO has already filed bribery charges against Alstom Network UK, a unit of the French company’s transport division, which is not being bought by GE.

The charges accuse Alstom Power of paying money, disguised as a consultancy agreement, to agents or officials of AB Lietuvos Elektrine, the state-controlled energy company, over a contract to provide energy burners to the Elektrenai power plant in Lithuania.

Also facing charges on Monday will be Nicholas Reynolds, 49, of Derby; and Johannes Venskus, 71, also of Derby. Both men are former employees of Alstom Power. They are both accused by the SFO of two counts of conspiring to bribe an agent and offering a bribe, according to the court list. As with the power unit, the counts turn on allegations surrounding the contract to provide burners to the Lithuanian power plant.

Both men’s lawyers previously declined to comment to the Financial Times ahead of Monday’s hearing.

The charges come after a five-year SFO investigation, just one strand of a web of corruption investigations around the world which Alstom is facing.

The US Department of Justice is probing separate allegations of bribery in Indonesia. The company is in negotiations with the DoJ to pay roughly $700m to settle the probe, people familiar with the situation told the FT last week. This would make it the largest single payment ever made to the DoJ over alleged breaches of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The US has demanded that Alstom, rather than GE, assume liability for the fine. When GE agreed a deal to buy the power division of Alstom for €12.35bn earlier this year, both sides said the US company would assume all of its liabilities, including possible official penalties.

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