DMRC bribery case: Alstom Transport India ex-MD to face charge in UK

A former managing director of Alstom Transport India, the first person to face charges in connection with a bribery investigation into the UK subsidiary of the French train and turbine giant, will appear in court next month.

PTI| Updated: Oct 20, 2014, 23:12 PM IST

London: A former managing director of Alstom Transport India, the first person to face charges in connection with a bribery investigation into the UK subsidiary of the French train and turbine giant, will appear in court next month.

At a preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court in London earlier this month, Robert Hallett, former managing director of Alstom Transport India, was among some of the company officials requisitioned to appear before Southwark Crown Court in reference to the allegations.

A preliminary hearing date will be fixed for him when he appears before the court on November 3.

A number of officials from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) also allegedly received bribes from the UK firm, a British court was told at the hearing on October 6.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had issued legal proceedings against Alstom Network UK Limited on bribery charges in India, Poland and Tunisia.

The fraud investigator believes the firm may have paid around USD 8.5 million in bribes over a period of six years to secure contracts in Delhi, Warsaw and Tunis.

Simon Farrell for the prosecution laid out details of alleged recipients of the bribe payments in all three regions but did not name any officials from DMRC.

A case management hearing will now take place on January 28, 2015, and the deadline for evidence to be submitted to the court is November 18.

The detailed charge in reference to the DMRC states: "Alstom Network UK Limited (formerly Alstom International Limited) together with certain of its directors and others between the 1st day of August 2000 and the 9th day of August 2006 did corruptly give or agree to give payments to an official or officials or other agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd."

It states that "i) the sum of INR 19,895,000 disguised as payments in respect of a ii) the sum of 3,131,600 Euros disguised as a payment in respect of a Consultancy as inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract with the said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for a Train Control, Signaling and Telecommunications System for the Delhi Metro Phase 1 ('SYS 1').

"An offence contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906."

The SFO investigation commenced as a result of information provided by the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland concerning the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK Limited. The UK's financial watchdog had filed charges back in July.

The alleged agreements were struck by Alstom Network UK, certain directors and others with Indo European Ventures and Global King Technology in India, SagaxEngineering Limited and Kavan BV in Poland and Construction et Gestion NEVCO in Tunisia, according to SFO court filings.

France-based Alstom group stressed that the charges related to past misconduct.

"The company has been in communication with the SFO and seeks no more than a fair and appropriate resolution of the allegations made," a spokesperson said.

If convicted, Alstom Network UK faces fines or a ban from competing for public contracts in the European Union.

The move comes four years after the SFO arrested three members of Alstom's board in the UK over bribery allegations.

In 2011, two of them Robert Purcell and Stephen Burgin unsuccessfully challenged the legitimacy of SFO searches at their homes. The third, Altan Cledwyn-Davies, died shortly after his arrest.

The SFO dropped its investigation into the pair due to a lack of evidence but continued its probe into the company.

Authorities in the US and Brazil have also been investigating whether Alstom staff bribed officials to win lucrative contracts in countries such as India, Indonesia, and China.