Alstom director in court after SFO bribery probe

The SFO has been investigating Alstom for five years as part of an international criminal inquiry into alleged corruption

A former managing director at the industrial giant Alstom will appear in court on Monday accused of bribing Indian transport officials to win lucrative contracts.

Robert Hallett, who worked for the French company’s UK business, is accused of paying agents of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation €3.1m (£2.44m) and 19.9m rupees (£202,585) “as inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract”, according to reports.

He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The case follows an investigation into the train and turbine maker by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which alleges that Alstom used bribes to win transport contracts in India, Poland and Tunisia.

The SFO has been investigating Alstom for five years as part of an international criminal inquiry into alleged corruption. The company could face fines or a ban from competing for public contracts in the European Union.

Mr Hallett, who is the first individual to face charges, could not be reached for comment.

Alstom has previously said: “The company has been in communication with the SFO and seeks no more than a fair and appropriate resolution of the allegations made.”

The news of the hearing comes at a testing time for Alstom, which has agreed to sell its energy business to US conglomerate General Electric. The deal is expected to be completed next year and will see the French state take a 20 per cent stake in Alstom.

It also comes just a day after the SFO confirmed that its director, David Green, has opened an investigation into “accounting practices” at Tesco following the revelation a month ago of a huge black hole in the profits of the UK’s biggest retailer.

The accounting scandal, which shocked the City, centres on the company booking deals such as rebates from suppliers too early and deferring costs to inflate profits.

The SFO is likely to take months sifting through vast quantities of digital data and other evidence, while seeking to identify and trace witnesses.

The drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is also having its “commercial practices” investigated by the SFO.

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