Three UK-based directors of French engineering giant Alstom have been arrested on suspicion of paying bribes to win contracts overseas and laundering money.
Earlier this morning search warrants were executed at Alstom business premises and residential addresses at locations in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and London.
The three men arrested, who are aged 52, 51 and 44, were taken to police stations to be interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office.
The executives were on the boards of Alstom UK Holdings, Alstom and Alstom Network UK.
The operation has involved 109 SFO staff and 44 police officers and Accredited Financial Investigators from Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire Police forces and the Metropolitan Police Service.
Code-named Operation Ruthenium, the investigation by the SFO is into the suspected payment of bribes by companies within the Alstom group in the UK. It is suspected that bribes have been paid in order to win contracts overseas and that this has involved associated money laundering and other offences. The SFO has been working closely with the Office of the Attorney General and Federal Police in Switzerland, and a number of police forces in the UK.
There have been reports that the alleged bribery payments being investigated were made between 1995 and 2003 in order to win contracts in Asia and South America.
Commenting on today’s action, Richard Alderman, SFO director, said, ‘The SFO is committed to tackling corruption. We are working closely with other criminal-justice organisations across the world and are taking steps to encourage companies to report any suspicions of corruption, either within their own business or by other companies or individuals’