London: A number of unnamed officials or agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had either received or agreed to receive bribes from the UK subsidiary ofFrench train and turbine giant Alstom, a British court has been told.
Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had issued legal proceedings against Alstom Network UK Limited on bribery charges in India, Poland and Tunisia.
The fraud investigator believes the firm may have paid around $8.5 million in bribes over a period of six years to secure contracts in Delhi, Warsaw and Tunis.
At a preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, Robert Hallett, former managing director of Alstom Transport India, was among some of the company officials requisitioned to appear before the court in reference to the allegations.
Prosecutor Simon Farrell laid out details of alleged recipients of the bribe payments in all three regions but did not name any officials from DMRC.
A case management hearing will now take place on January 28, 2015, and the deadline for evidence to be submitted to the court is November 18.
The detailed charge in reference to the DMRC states: "Alstom Network UK Limited (formerly Alstom International Limited) together with certain of its directors and others between the 1st day of August 2000 and the 9th day of August 2006 did corruptly give or agree to give payments to an official or officials or other agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.
It states that "i) a sum of Rs 19,895,000 disguised as payments in respect of a ii) the sum of euro 3,131,600 disguised as a payment in respect of a Consultancy as inducements or rewards for showing favour to the Alstom Group in relation to the award or performance of a contract with the said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for a Train Control, Signalling and Telecommunications System for the Delhi Metro Phase 1 ('SYS 1')."
"An offence contrary to section 1 Prevention of Corruption Act 1906."
The SFO investigation commenced as a result of information provided by the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland concerning the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK Limited.
The UK's financial watchdog had filed charges back in July.
The alleged agreements were struck by Alstom Network UK, certain directors and others with Indo European Ventures and Global King Technology in India, SagaxEngineering Limited andKavan BV in Poland and Construction et Gestion NEVCO in Tunisia, according to SFO court filings.
France-based Alstom group stressed that the charges related to past misconduct.
"The company has been in communication with the SFO and seeks no more than a fair and appropriate resolution of the allegations made," a spokesperson said.
Farrell told the court that the alleged recipients of the bribe payments on the Polish project were Jacek Zdrojewski, former deputy mayor of Warsaw, and Piskorski - one of theleaders of the Polish political party Civic Platform.
He added the alleged recipient of the bribe payments on the Tunisian project was Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of the former President of Tunisia.
The alleged recipients from DMRC may be named during further proceedings.
If convicted, Alstom Network UK faces fines or a ban from competing for public contracts in the European Union.
The move comes four years after the SFO arrested three members of Alstom's board in the UK over bribery allegations.
In 2011, two of them - Robert Purcell and Stephen Burgin - unsuccessfully challenged the legitimacy of SFO searches at their homes.
The third, Altan Cledwyn-Davies, died shortly after his arrest.
The SFO dropped its investigation into the pair due to a lack of evidence but continued its probe into the company.
Authorities in the US and Brazil have also been investigating whether Alstom staff bribed officials to win lucrative contracts in countries such as India, Indonesia, and China.
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Updated Date: Oct 07, 2014 19:51:11 IST