French water firm denies corruption
Lyonnaise fights to preserve image as it bids for Northumbrian Water
Friday 10 March 1995
The group installed a new business ethics director on 1 March, a few weeks after Mr Monod was interviewed for four hours by Henri Blondet, a Lyons magistrate investigating corruption in Grenoble.
Marc-Michel Merlin, the chief executive of the Lyonnaise subsidiary Socit de Distribution des Eaux Intercommunales (SDEI), has alleged that Mr Monod was present at a lunch with the mayor of Grenoble at which the pact was agreed, according to Water Bulletin, a London-based utility trade magazine.
Mr Monod told reporters after his questioning that he had no knowledge of any pact. No charges have been laid against either him or the group.
Mr Merlin has been charged with misappropriation of corporate funds but is free on bail. Judge Blondet decided to keep the mayor, Alain Carignon - forced by the scandal to resign last year from his other post as national communications minister - behind bars, saying there was "serious, detailed and corroborated evidence" against him.
Mr Carignon has been charged with accepting gifts that helped to keep his financially troubled political newletters afloat. SDEI was granted the distribution contract for Grenoble in 1989. Lyonnaise denies any wrongdoing and says the scandal arose out of vague rules for political contributions prior to 1990. It also said it had decided to halt all political contributions last year, in advance of a new law prohibiting them that came into effect this year.
A spokesman for the company also suggested that the scandal might have arisen from events that took place before Lyonnaise bought SDEI, although he was unable to give a particular date.
Lyonnaise has fought vigorously to maintain its reputation, winning a token Fr1 from Thierry Jean-Pierre, a retired judge turned European MP who wrote that "80 per cent of political corruption in France is organised by two large industrial groups".The company was not named in his book.
It has also launched a professional code of ethics, which prohibits staff from agreeing to any direct or indirect request for illegal payments in return for contracts or orders.
The code also warns employees torefuse gifts.
The move came shortly after Michel Barnier, the French environment minister, recommended an end to the practice under which utilities gave commissions or set-up fees to local authorities.
These often gave the mayors an incentive to pick the highest rather than the lowest bidder.
Lyonnaise proposes to take over Northumbrian and merge it with North East Water. The bid is to be put before the Monopolies & Mergers Commission before it is priced.
Mike Taylor, Northumbrian's finance director, said: "The issue is how much they are prepared to pay to the shareholders."
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Ellen DeGeneres leads Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany in revealing game of Never Have I Ever
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...