NEW YORK - French power and transportation company Alstom S.A. has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $772,290,000 fine to resolve charges related to a widespread scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes in countries around the world, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Bahamas.
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson of the District of Connecticut and FBI Executive Assistant Director Robert Anderson Jr. made the announcement on December 22.
"Alstom's corruption scheme was sustained over more than a decade and across several continents," said Deputy Attorney General Cole. "It was astounding in its breadth, its brazenness and its worldwide consequences. And it is both my expectation - and my intention - that the comprehensive resolution we are announcing today will send an unmistakable message to other companies around the world: that this Department of Justice will be relentless in rooting out and punishing corruption to the fullest extent of the law, no matter how sweeping its scale or how daunting its prosecution."
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.
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.
According to the Justice Department, 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."
"There were a number of problems in the past and we deeply regret that," said Alstom CEO Patrick Kron. "However, this resolution with the DOJ allows Alstom to put this issue behind us and to continue our efforts to ensure that business is conducted in a responsible way, consistent with the highest ethical standards."
Alstom said it "has made significant progress in the area of compliance over the last several years. The conduct referred to in the agreement mainly arose from the use of external success fee based Sales Consultants hired by Alstom to support its commercial teams. In order to ensure that Alstom strives for the best compliance procedures, Alstom has discontinued the hiring of such Sales Consultants. Further, pursuant to a negotiated resolution agreement with the World Bank, Alstom committed in Feb 2012 to continue to improve its internal compliance program, including by retaining a monitor to oversee its efforts in this regard. To date, the work of the Monitor has confirmed that Alstom has put in place a Corporate Compliance Program that reflects the principles embedded in the WBG's Integrity Compliance Guidelines.
"As indicated during the recent shareholders' meeting where the transaction with General Electric on Alstom's energy businesses was approved, the combination of the positive adjustments arising from commercial discussions with General Electric on various deal points and of the resolution of the DOJ investigation will not have a material impact on the overall economics of this transaction."
In April of this year, General Electric offered $13.5 billion to acquire Alstom Thermal, Renewables, and Grid businesses. At Alstom's extraordinary shareholders' meeting, convened on December 19, shareholders approved the transaction to sell Alstom's Energy businesses to GE by a majority of 99.2 percent.