French engineer denies reports it used bribes to win contracts

French engineering company Alstom has denied that it paid £81m in bribes to foreign officials through British offshoot companies.

The denial follows the arrest of three company directors last March and reports that the Serious Fraud Office suspected the company of bribing public officials to win contracts.

In a statement to Agence France Presse, a company spokesperson said that the SFO’s probe was baseless, and “Alstom is a company which does not tolerate any corruption”.

He said: “The group has a code of ethics and a system of auditing and inspection which prevent any sort of illegal commercial practice.”

In March last year three directors of the company - Stephen Burgin, UK president; Robert Purcell, finance director; and Altan Cledwyn-Davies, legal director - were arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption, conspiracy to pay bribes, money laundering and false accounting.

They were subsequently released without charge.