France’s Alstom ‘to pay $700m’ in US for bribery

French industrial giant Alstom has agreed to pay $700 million to settle US corruption charges related to the paying of bribes, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

France's Alstom 'to pay $700m' in US for bribery
France's Alstom is to pay $700 million in the US over a series of bribery cases.Photo: AFP

The settlement, to be announced next week, comes as US conglomerate General Electric prepares to complete a deal to buy key Alstom assets.

The US Department of Justice has accused Alstom under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of bribing officials in Indonesia to win the $118 million Tarahan energy contract in the early 2000s in Indonesia.

Alstom partnered with Japanese firm Marubeni, which in March pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and was sentenced to pay an $88 million US criminal fine.

Besides Marubeni, three former Alstom officials have pleaded guilty to FCPA violations in the case, while a fourth awaits trial.

The settlement was hinted at earlier this month by US Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, who said on December 4 that executives from Marubeni and Alstom "engaged in a multi-year scheme to pay millions of dollars to a high ranking member of the Indonesian Parliament and other officials" in exchange for the Tarahan contract.

"We are actively continuing to investigate and anticipate additional law enforcement actions in the near future," according to a transcript of Caldwell's remarks at an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development event in Paris to launch a report on bribery.

US officials have said emails show the conspirators hired two "consultants" in the Tarahan scandal, employing a second to bribe Indonesian officials because they were doubtful the first would succeed in winning Tarahan.

Caldwell said the US was working with officials in Switzerland, Britain and the World Bank on Alstom corruption matters.

In July, Britain's Serious Fraud Office said it had launched criminal proceedings against an Alstom unit over alleged corruption in India, Poland and Tunisia.

In February, officials in Brazil indicted 11 people in a case in which Alstom is alleged to have paid $10 million in bribes to obtain contracts with the Sao Paulo metro.

In 2011, a subsidiary of Alstom was fined $42.7 million by Swiss authorities to address bribery charges in Latvia, Tunisia and Malaysia.

The impending Alstom settlement is bigger than a $450 million agreement between the DOJ and Siemens in 2008 to settle FCPA charges the German company bribed officials in several countries.

The settlement would remove a hurdle to GE's deal to buy most of Alstom's energy assets for 12.4 billion euro ($15.5 billion).

The deal is a centerpiece of GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt to make industrial operations a bigger portion of the conglomerate's earnings stream and to reduce the impact of finance units.

Alstom shareholders are scheduled to vote on December 19 on the GE deal. The deal is expected to close in the middle of 2015.

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Deutsche Bank to pay $130m to settle US bribery probes

Deutsche Bank will pay $130 million to settle a foreign bribery probe and fraud charges in precious metals trading, US officials announced on Friday.

Deutsche Bank to pay $130m to settle US bribery probes
A woman walks past the offices of Deutsche Bank in London. Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP
The bribery case relates to illegal payments and to false reporting of those sums on the bank's books and records between 2009 and 2016, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
The bank “knowingly and wilfully” kept false records after employees conspired with a Saudi consultant to facilitate bribe payments of over $1 million to a decision maker, the DOJ said.
In another case, the bank paid more than $3 million “without invoices” to an Abu Dhabi consultant “who lacked qualifications… other than his family relationship with the client decision maker,” the DOJ said.
In addition to criminal fines and payments of ill-gotten gains, Deutsche Bank agreed to cooperate with government investigators under a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.
In the commodities fraud case, Deutsche Bank metals traders in New York, Singapore and London between 2008 and 2013 placed fake trade orders to profit by deceiving other market participants, the DOJ said.
The agreement took into account Deutsche Bank's cooperation with the probes, DOJ said.
“Deutsche Bank engaged in a criminal scheme to conceal payments to so-called consultants worldwide who served as conduits for bribes to foreign officials and others so that they could unfairly obtain and retain lucrative business projects,” said Acting US Attorney Seth D. DuCharme of the Eastern District of New York.
“This office will continue to hold responsible financial institutions that operate in the United States and engage in practices to facilitate criminal activity in order to increase their bottom line.”
“We take responsibility for these past actions, which took place between 2008 and 2017,” said Deutsche Bank spokesperson Dan Hunter, adding that the company has taken “significant remedial actions” including hiring staff and upgrading technology to address the shortcomings.