LONDON, June 14 Britain's Serious Fraud Office
(SFO) is pursuing its investigation of alleged corruption at
Alstom as a major transatlantic takeover battle for
the French engineering conglomerate reaches a climax, the
Financial Times reported on Saturday.
The paper said Britain's Attorney General - the government's
chief legal adviser - has given permission for the SFO to
prosecute the company and former employees for alleged overseas
bribery if considered appropriate.
The paper also said the SFO has notified seven individuals
that they are under investigation.
The SFO declined to comment and no comment was immediately
available from the Attorney General's office.
The FT said the SFO, which opened its probe into the company
over four years ago, has invited the company for discussions
which could pre-empt any decision to file charges.
The reported moves come at a sensitive time for Alstom,
which is expected soon to receive a joint offer from Germany's
Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
for its turbine businesses.
That approach would counter an existing $17 billion offer
from U.S. conglomerate General Electric for Alstom's
An Alstom spokeswoman in Paris declined to comment on the
specifics of the FT story but said: "Alstom continues to work
constructively with the authorities to address any allegations
of past misconduct."
Alstom is also co-operating with the U.S. Justice Department
over allegations of bribery in Asia.
According to court filings seen by Reuters, the Justice
Department has evidence that a former Alstom executive tried to
bribe officials to secure power projects in Indonesia, India and
Two executives of Alstom's U.S. subsidiary in Connecticut
have already pleaded guilty and admitted to paying bribes on
behalf of the company in connection with a project on the
Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The long-running investigation could result in penalties of
several hundred millions of dollars, legal experts say.
(Reporting by Stephen Addison; additional reporting by Gus
Trompiz in Paris; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)