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Britain files criminal charges against Alstom UK unit

Sebastien Bozon | AFP | Getty Images

Britain's leading fraud prosecutor on Thursday charged a British subsidiary of French engineering group Alstom with three offences of corruption and three offences of conspiracy to corrupt after a five-year investigation.

The charges by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), flagged by the agency's head David Green in a Reuters interview on Wednesday, come just weeks after the French parent agreed a 12.4 billion euro ($16.7 billion) sale of most of its power business to U.S. conglomerate General Electric (GE).

The first court hearing will take place on September 9.

Officials for Alstom in Paris declined to comment.

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The charges against Alstom Network UK relate to large transport projects in India, Poland and Tunisia carried out between June 2000 and November 2006, the agency said.

The SFO said it had begun its investigation after information provided by the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland that concerned the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK.

The GE deal, which sparked a two-month tug-of-war with the French government, is expected to be submitted to shareholder approval by the end of this year and to close by mid-2015.

- By Reuters