14:14, December 19 101 0 theguardian.com

2018-12-19 14:14:05
Alstom executives found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt

A director at the French engineering firm Alstom has been found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt at Blackfriars crown court today following a prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office.

Nicholas Reynolds, global sales director at an Alstom subsidiary based in Derby, was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to bribe Lithuanian politicians and officials at a Lithuanian power plant in an effort to secure contracts.

As a result of court restrictions being lifted, it can now be reported that two other Alstom executives, as well as the company itself, have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt in connection with the same project.

Bribes of more than €5m (£4.5m) were paid to obtain the two contracts, together worth €240m. Alstom was fined £6.4m and ordered to pay £11m in compensation to the Lithuanian government, along with £700,000 costs.

Two Alstom employees, John Venskus and Göran Wikström, also pleaded guilty to bribery. Venskus was jailed for three years and six months, while Wikström was jailed for two years and seven months, and was ordered to pay £40,000 costs.

In sentencing Wikström, Judge Martin Beddoe said: “This was a very serious example of bribery and corruption that beleaguers the civilised, commercial world and is a cancer upon it.”

Reynolds will be sentenced at Blackfriars crown court on 21 December.

It can also now be reported that earlier this year Alstom was convicted of a separate charge of conspiracy to corrupt over bribes paid to win a contract to supply trams and signalling equipment to the company running the Tunis metro in Tunisia.

Bribes of €2.4m were paid by Alstom to a shell company in Canada called Construction et Gestion Nevco Inc in an effort to corruptly secure the €85m contract. Alstom is appealing the verdict.

Two Alstom directors and the company were acquitted of corruption in separate charges relating to India and Poland heard during the same trial.

A third case focusing on allegations bribes paid to public officials in Hungary to secure contracts to supply rolling stock to the Budapest metro ended with not guilty verdicts for the company and for three directors.

The verdicts mean that Alstom, which is headquartered in France, has now been hit with financial penalties in at least three jurisdictions in the past seven years in connection with investigations into corruption and related offences.

In 2015 Alstom was sentenced to a $772m fine by a US judge in Connecticut for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act after investigators found it had paid at least $75m of bribes to secure contracts worth billions of dollars.

According to Reuters, authorities accused Alstom of trying to conceal the scheme by routing bribes through middlemen with codenames such as “Mr Geneva”. Three Alstom executives also pleaded guilty.

In 2011 Alstom Switzerland was fined 2.5m Swiss francs and ordered to pay a further 36m Swiss francs in compensation for corporate negligence after failing to prevent bribery in Latvia, Tunisia and Malaysia.

Alstom employs more than 34,000 people and reported revenue of nearly €8bn last year, with profits of €381m. Last year it announced a proposal to merge with the German industrial giant Siemens. Shareholders approved the merger earlier this year.

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