SFO in court for Alstom bribery case

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has enlisted Three Raymond Buildings’ Simon Farrell QC and Rachel Scott for its court case against French train giant Alstom, which it accused of paying around $8m (£5m) in bribes to officials over a six-year period.

The regulator faced Alstom Network UK at Southwark Crown Court this week to level the six charges of corrupt payments to officials to secure contracts in Delhi, Warsaw and Tunisia. Following the 6 October preliminary hearing the case will have a case management conference on January 28 2015 and is expected to proceed to a full trial next year.

Alstom has turned to Red Lion Chambers barrister Ruby Hamid and Simon Taylor, who were instructed through Fulcrum Chambers. Fulcrum is a barrister-led partnership offering which started out as a legal disciplinary practice and has been transitioning to an alternative business structure (ABS).

The six charges of corruption and conspiracy include allegations that a number of unnamed officials or agents of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had either received or agreed to receive bribes.

The charges were originally filed in July but the SFO has been investigating Alstom for five years. In court filings the agency accused the company of disguising corrupt payments as consultancy agreements.

These agreements were struck by Alstom Network UK, certain directors and others with Indo European Ventures and Global King Technology in India, Sagax Engineering and Kavan in Poland and Construction et Gestion NEVCO in Tunisia, the SFO alleged in the document.

The case progresses as Alstom pushes through a $17bn (£10bn) deal with General Electric (GE) to hand over its energy business. Pending regulatory and Alstom staff approval the deal will go ahead, with the French government agreeing to buy a 20 per cent stake in Alstom to protect the business.

The trial is one of a swathe of criminal hearings brought against companies by the SFO. The body made its first-ever charges against individuals accused of violating the UK Bribery Act last year in connection with a £23m fraud at Sustainable AgroEnergy, whose parent company Sustainable Growth Group was in administration.

The legal line-up

For the SFO

Three Raymond Buildings’ Simon Farrell QC and Rachel Scott, instructed by CPS lawyer Rosemary Fernandez

For Alstom

Red Lion Chambers’ Ruby Hamid and Fulcrum Chambers’ Simon Taylor