U.S. judge sentences Alstom in bribery case, $772 mln fine

Nov 13 (Reuters) - A federal judge in Connecticut on Friday sentenced the French industrial company Alstom SA to pay a $772.3 million criminal fine, the largest levied by the U.S. government in a foreign bribery case, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The sentencing by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven followed Alstom’s plea on Dec. 22, 2014, to charges it violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) by falsifying its books and records, and failing to implement adequate internal controls.

Alstom pleaded guilty after a probe in which investigators found it paid more than $75 million in bribes over a decade to win $4 billion of contracts in countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan, generating $300 million of profit.

Authorities said Alstom tried to conceal the scheme by hiring middlemen masquerading as consultants to funnel corrupt payments, referring to them in code with names like “Mr. Geneva,” “Quiet Man” and “Old Friend.”

The plea covered activity by various Alstom entities including Connecticut-based Alstom Power Inc, which entered a deferred prosecution agreement after admitting it conspired to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

Alstom’s sentence reflected factors including the breadth of the misconduct, and the company’s failure to come forward sooner, the Justice Department said.

General Electric Co this month completed its purchase of Alstom’s power and grid businesses for about 9.7 billion euros (US$10.4 billion).

The Justice Department has also charged four executives from Alstom in connection with the bribery scheme.

Three have pleaded guilty. The fourth, Lawrence Hoskins, a former senior vice president for the Asia region, faces a trial before Arterton on April 18, 2016.

Alstom began providing “thorough cooperation” after the executives were charged, the Justice Department said.

The case is U.S. v. Alstom SA, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 14-cr-00246. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York)