Alstom Network UK must pay £16.4m over bribes to win tram contract

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
29 November 2019

Trainmaker Alstom Network UK has been ordered to hand over £16.4m for paying bribes to win a contract supplying trams to Tunisia.

The company was convicted in April 2018 of conspiracy to corrupt after paying an intermediary, Construction et Gestion Nevco, €2.4m to secure a €79.9m contract with Transtu, which runs the Tunis Metro.

During sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on 22 November the company was told to pay £15m in fines and costs of £1.4m.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said to satisfy internal compliance checks and make payment to Nevco appear a legitimate contract for services, Alstom helped to produce paperwork as evidence of services rendered. “In reality, Nevco was simply a conduit for bribes,” said the SFO.

The SFO carried out a wide-ranging investigation arising from the actions of Alstom subsidiaries in power and transport projects in Europe and across the world.

Lisa Osofsky, director of the SFO, said: “This sentencing brings to an end a case which involved cooperation from over 30 countries and concerned conduct across Europe and beyond.

“It shows that we will work tirelessly with law enforcement around the world to root out bribery and corruption.”

Previously, former business development manager John Venskus, former regional sales director at Alstom Power Sweden Göran Wikström and Alstom Power Ltd pleaded guilty to bribing senior Lithuanian figures to win contracts to upgrade and refit a power station, the Lithuanian Power Plant. Tenders for the project were invited by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Alstom Group companies paid more than €5m in bribes to secure the €240m contract. As with the Tunisian contract, papers were falsified to circumvent checks put in place by Alstom fraud-prevention staff to prevent bribery.

In 2018 Alstom Power was fined more than £6m and told to pay almost £11m in compensation and £700,000 costs. Venskus was jailed for three-and-a-half years and told to pay £410,000 costs. Wikström was jailed for two years and seven months and ordered to pay £40,000 costs.

Nicholas Reynolds, former global sales director for Alstom Power’s Boiler Retrofits unit, was found guilty by a jury of the same conduct, being sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs. He is appealing the conviction.

The SFO’s investigation involved countries including France, Canada, USA, Hungary, Denmark, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, India, Sweden, Lithuania, Switzerland and Tunisia.

The investigation began in 2009 as a result of information provided by the attorney general in Switzerland.

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