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ALSTOM – Corruption Investigation Enters the Boardroom

The U.K. Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) issued this release today which states that “[t]hree members of the Board of ALSTOM in the UK have been arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption, conspiracy to pay bribes, money laundering and false accounting, and have been taken to police stations to be interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office.”

According to the release, search warrants were executed at five ALSTOM businesses premises and four residential addresses. The operation, involving “109 SFO staff and 44 police officers” is code-named “Operation Ruthenium” and centers on “suspected payment of bribes by companies within the ALSTOM group in the U.K.” According to the release, “[i]t is suspected that bribes have been paid in order to win contracts overseas.”

SFO Director Richard Alderman, in a very DOJ-like statement, noted that “[t]he SFO is committed to tackling corruption” (presumably so long as it does not involve BAE) and that the SFO is “working closely with other criminal justice organizations across the world” and is “taking steps to encourage companies to report any suspicions of corruption, either within their own business or by other companies or individuals.”

ALSTOM (see here) “is a global leader in power generation and rail infrastructure.” One of the company’s major competitors is Siemens. ALSTOM’s shares are listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.

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