December 31, 2014 / 11:56 AM / 4 years ago

Poland says may charge more people in Alstom unit bribery case

* Charges so far pressed against five people

* Case concerns contracts won by Alstom unit in 1998-2001

By Marcin Goettig

WARSAW, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Poland may charge more people in a case involving two former managers of French industrial giant Alstom’s Polish unit accused of bribing public servants to win transportation contracts worth millions of dollars, Polish prosecutors said.

The development follows September allegations from Britain’s leading fraud prosecutor that a British subsidiary of Alstom paid around $8.5 million in bribes over a six-year period to win transport contracts in India, Poland and Tunisia.

Earlier in December, Alstom said it would pay a record $772 million fine and plead guilty to settle U.S. criminal charges that it funneled bribes through sham consultants to win business around the globe.

The Polish case concerns contracts won by Alstom Konstal for the delivery of 108 carriages for Warsaw’s underground transit system signed in 1998, and the delivery of 62 trams for Warsaw signed in 2000 as well as a contract from 2001, which was finally cancelled, for a further 60 trams for the capital.

Prosecutors from the southwestern city of Wroclaw have already charged two former employees of Alstom Konstal with inflicting severe financial damage on the company and with failing to act adequately in its interest.

Prosecutors have also charged two former Warsaw city council employees with accepting bribes. One person has been charged with giving bribes to a public servant.

A spokeswoman for the Wroclaw appellate prosecutor’s office, Anna Zimolag, said in a statement sent to Reuters that the investigation is expected to be extended beyond Feb. 28, when it had been scheduled to end.

“After an analysis (of the evidence), decisions will be taken regarding further proceedings, including a possible extension of charges already pressed or pressing charges against further people, whose actions are being investigated,” Zimolag said.

She said Polish prosecutors had gathered thousands of pages of evidence in the case, including banking, financial and trade documentation, also obtained on requests from Britain, Switzerland and Spain.

She said prosecutors had asked France for legal assistance on the case over a year ago, but had not received it so far.

A spokeswoman for the Warsaw city council said the city was “calmly awaiting clarification” on the case. Alstom Konstal declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Wiktor Szary; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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