Friday, December 26, 2014
Alstom Hit Hard With Settlement For Bribery
French engineering giant Alstom. SA agreed to pay $772 million to settle accusations that it paid millions of dollars in bribes to win energy contracts, prosecutors said on Monday.
That amount represents the largest-ever criminal penalty the U.S. Department of Justice has gotten from a company on bribery-related charges.
The record criminal penalty in part reflects what prosecutors saw as an initial failure of the company to fully cooperate, according to people familiar with the matter.
U.S. authorities have ramped up overseas bribery enforcement in recent years, often investigating foreign companies that have a subsidiary located within the U.S. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime to bribe a government official in exchange for business.
“This investigation spanned years and crossed continents, as agents from the FBI Washington and New Haven field offices conducted interviews and collected evidence in every corner of the globe,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Anderson. “The record dollar amount of the fine is a clear deterrent to companies who would engage in foreign bribery, but an even better deterrent is that we are sending executives who commit these crimes to prison.”
Alstom pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, charging the company with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by falsifying its books and records and failing to implement adequate internal controls. Alstom admitted its criminal conduct and agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $772,290,000. U.S. District Judge Janet B. Arterton of the District of Connecticut scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 23, 2015 at 3pm.
In addition, Alstom Network Schweiz AG, formerly Alstom Prom (Alstom Prom), Alstom’s Swiss subsidiary, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. Alstom Power Inc. (Alstom Power) and Alstom Grid Inc. (Alstom Grid), two U.S. subsidiaries, both entered into deferred prosecution agreements, admitting that they conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. Alstom Power is headquartered in Windsor, Connecticut, and Alstom Grid, formerly Alstom T&D, was headquartered in New Jersey.
According to the companies’ admissions, Alstom, Alstom Prom, Alstom Power and Alstom Grid, through various executives and employees, paid bribes to government officials and falsified books and records in connection with power, grid and transportation projects for state-owned entities around the world, including in Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Bahamas and Taiwan. In Indonesia, for example, Alstom, Alstom Prom, and Alstom Power paid bribes to government officials – including a high-ranking member of the Indonesian Parliament and high-ranking members of Perusahaan Listrik Negara, the state-owned electricity company in Indonesia – in exchange for assistance in securing several contracts to provide power-related services valued at approximately $375 million. In total, Alstom paid more than $75 million to secure $4 billion in projects around the world, with a profit to the company of approximately $300 million.
Alstom and its subsidiaries also attempted to conceal the bribery scheme by retaining consultants purportedly to provide consulting services on behalf of the companies, but who actually served as conduits for corrupt payments to the government officials. Internal Alstom documents refer to some of the consultants in code, including “Mr. Geneva,” “Mr. Paris,” “London,” “Quiet Man” and “Old Friend.”