The French firm Alstom SA has pleaded guilty and will pay $772 million in criminal penalties to settle charges with the U.S. Justice Department alleging the company bribed government officials to win business in Indonesia, India and China. The settlement announced by the Justice Department on Monday marks the largest-ever criminal fine levied by the United States against a company for violations of foreign bribery laws.
Earlier on Monday, a unit of Alstom and two employees were also charged by the Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom with bribing officials from 2002 through part of 2010. Alstom's power turbines unit has already been under tremendous heat, both because of the looming bribery probe fines and from a drop in orders and a cash crunch. In June, the company agreed to sell most of the power business to General Electric Co. so it could turn its attention to its smaller rail unit instead.