A U.S. District Judge fined French energy and transport giant Alstom SA $722 million, for bribing government officials in Indonesia, Egypt and several other countries in exchange for state-backed contracts.
The Connecticut judge formally sentenced the company under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for falsifying its books and failing to implement adequate internal controls. The company had pleaded guilty to the charges in a federal court last year.
The company’s bribery operations — described as “astounding in its breadth and brazenness” by Deputy Attorney General James Cole — had even managed to bribe a high-ranking member of the Indonesian Parliament to secure contracts for several power projects in the country.
“In total, Alstom paid more than $75 million to secure more than $4 billion in projects around the world, with a profit to the company of approximately $300 million,” the Department Of Justice said in a statement.
“This case is emblematic of how the Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute FCPA cases – and other corporate crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “We encourage companies to maintain robust compliance programs, to voluntarily disclose and eradicate misconduct when it is detected, and to cooperate in the government’s investigation. But we will not wait for companies to act responsibly. With cooperation or without it, the department will identify criminal activity at corporations and investigate the conduct ourselves, using all of our resources, employing every law enforcement tool, and considering all possible actions, including charges against both corporations and individuals.”
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.
The U.S. watchdog said it had imposed such a high fine partly because the company did not cooperate with its investigation for several years. The company started cooperating with the investigation only after the Justice department leveled charges against five of its executives, four of whom have pleaded guilty.
The fifth person, named Lawrence Hoskins, who was a senior vice president for the Asia region in the past, will be tried in 2016.