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Brazil freezes assets tied to Alstom, Siemens price-fixing claims

09 november 2013, 19:04
©Reuters/Steve Marcus
©Reuters/Steve Marcus
Brazilian judges have frozen assets worth $26 million involved in an alleged cartel suspected of price-rigging during bidding for Sao Paulo's metro rail systems, AFP reports.

French engineering firm Alstom, Germany's Siemens and other foreign firms such as Spain's CAF, Japan's Mitsui and Bombardier of Canada were involved in the price-rigging scheme, according to Brazilian media.

In a statement, the judges said they froze the assets of five people, including three former heads of Sao Paulo commuter rail company CPTM, and of three companies, "including two suspected of having been used to commit crimes."

The text, issued late Thursday, did not specifically name the companies involved, although it referred to the "Alstom-Siemens" case.

It noted that the frozen funds would be used to "compensate the state and society."

The money was found in "bank accounts, investment instruments and shares owned by the accused as part of the probe into crimes of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering related to bidding for the metro (rail system)," the statement added.

In August, Sao Paulo state prosecutors launched a probe based on documents from Brazil's antitrust authority CADE into alleged price-fixing by several international companies involved in bidding for the city's metro rail systems from 1999 to 2009.

Siemens pledged full cooperation with Sao Paulo authorities at the time after being hit with a civil suit linked to the claims.

Sao Paulo officials said then that the German company was targeted because it confessed to its role in the price-rigging cartel.

The daily Folha de Sao Paulo reported that Alstom paid $20 million in 1990 alone to win public contracts in this country.

Last month, Siemens said it was ready to discuss compensation should it be proven to have engaged in price-fixing.

The alleged price-fixing occurred under the rule of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party in Sao Paulo state.

Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin's PSDB, which is in opposition to President Dilma Rousseff's ruling Workers Party nationally, has denied any wrongdoing.

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