Two jury trials with the possibility of a third are in the offing for French power and transportation conglomerate Alstom SA, which is facing charges in the United Kingdom that subsidiaries used bribery to win contracts in Poland, India, Tunisia, and Lithuania.
During a pre-trial hearing last week in Southwark Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith ordered an eight-week jury trial for Alstom Network UK and two of its former employees to begin in May 2016, the Financial Times and other media outlets reported.
The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office filed criminal charges against Alstom Network UK in July, following a five-year investigation. The subsidiary is accused of disguising bribes as consultancy agreements to win major transportation contracts in India, Poland, and Tunisia between 2000 and 2006. The two former employees named in the case, 70-year-old French resident Graham Hill and 51-year-old London resident Robert Hallett, have not entered pleas yet and are on conditional bail, FT reported. The alleged offenses occurred before the U.K. Bribery Act was passed in 2010.
A separate trial will be held for Alstom’s power subsidiary in the UK, Alstom Power, for bribery charges stemming from an energy contract in Lithuania. Two former employees are named in that case as well – 71-year-old Johanes Venskus and 49-year-old Nicholas Reynolds, both of Derby, according to FT. No date has been set yet for that trial.
During the pre-trial hearing, the judge indicated a third trial could be necessary for possible offenses occurring in Hungary, which the SFO is continuing to flesh out, Reuters reported. The SFO made no comment on the Hungary probe. Alex Cameron QC, brother of the British prime minister, is representing both Alstom subsidiaries, according to FT.
“We are aware of the SFO’s investigations,” a spokeswoman for Alstom SA told Reuters.
Alstom faces a rash of bribery probes from numerous jurisdictions, and last year agreed to a record $772 million settlement with U.S. authorities for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. However, in the U.K., the company is seeking to have the charges dismissed, partly on technical grounds and also because a suspect residing in Switzerland has not voluntarily journeyed to London for interviews in the case, Reuters reported.