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Alstom investigation 'nearing criminal charges' in UK over alleged corruption

Alstom investigation 'nearing criminal charges' in UK over alleged corruption
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The head of Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has said its five-year long investigation into alleged corruption at French engineering group Alstom is nearing criminal charges.

David Green said it would be logical in such a case to charge the company before focusing on individuals.

The move comes four years after the SFO arrested three members of Alstom’s board in the UK over allegations of bribery, money laundering and false accounting.

The investigation is focused on whether Alstom staff bribed officials to win lucrative contracts in countries such as Indonesia, India and China.

Earlier Alstom said it received record orders for rail equipment in its latest financial quarter and that offset a drop in sales in its thermal power, renewable power and electricity grid activities division.

Alstom last month reached a 12.4 billion euro deal for General Electric to buy most of the power business while it focuses on its better-performing rail arm.

For that reason the company said it cannot give a revenue or profit target right now

Alstom plans to use the proceeds from the deal to pay off debt, strengthen its rail business via acquisitions and return cash to shareholders.

In recent years the company has suffered from weak orders for power equipment which hit its cash flow and credit ratings.

In a statement on Wednesday, Alstom said transport orders reached 4.8 billion euros in the first quarter of its fiscal year, helped by a four billion euro contract in South Africa. Transport sales grew 17 percent on an organic basis.

Quarterly sales in thermal and renewable power dropped 10 percent while sales in grid fell five percent.

While the level of organic growth in transport “should not be extrapolated” over the full year, sales should grow at a “sustained pace” this year, mainly through the execution of a record backlog, Alstom said.