The Swiss Federal Prosecutor has fined Alstom Network Schweiz AG SFr 2.5 million and ordered it to pay SFr 36.4 million in compensation in relation to three cases where it had failed to prevent the bribery of foreign officials in Latvia, Tunisia and Malaysia.
It is reported today that this punishment follows investigations into Alstom’s actions in 15 countries, which were reopened in 2008. The investigation concluded that Alstom had failed to enforce a compliance policy with the “necessary persistence”.
It is further reported in the media that third parties engaged by Alstom had sent some of their success fees to foreign decision makers which had influenced decisions in favour of Alstom.
The Swiss prosecutor states that it had detected some breaches of internal compliance methods in the other twelve countries, but no additional acts of bribery.
Alstom itself has made a statement that the Swiss prosecutors office had not found any evidence of systemic corruption within the company and that in two of the three cases where it was found to be at fault Alstom was itself a victim of the actions of some of its employees while in the third case Alstom was “simply a subcontractor of a consortium”.
Of course, were Alstom to have been tried under the new UK Bribery Act 2010, the employees and the consortium partners would all very likely be found to be associated persons within the meaning of the Act and therefore the section 7 corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery would be established against Alstom if the court found that its compliance program was inadequate, a finding which seems to have been made in Switzerland.