Men arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption, paying bribes and money laundering in connection with overseas contracts

Three directors of Alstom, the French engineering giant, have been arrested on suspicion of bribery and corruption, conspiracy to pay bribes, money laundering and false accounting.

The Serious Fraud Office arrested the men, aged 52, 51 and 44, on suspicion they paid bribes in order to win contracts overseas, and that this involved money laundering.

Code-named Operation Ruthenium, the SFO worked closely with the Office of the Attorney General and federal police in Switzerland leading to the arrests.

The operation involved 109 SFO staff and 44 police officers, leading to the searching of Alstom business premises in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and London.

SFO director Richard Alderman said, "The SFO is committed to tackling corruption. We are working closely with other criminal justice organisations across the world and are taking steps to encourage companies to report any suspicions of corruption, either within their own business or by other companies or individuals."