LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Brazil’s anti-trust agency has opened an investigation into alleged corruption and price-fixing by a number of multinational companies including the German engineering group Siemens and its French rival Alstom, the BBC reports.
The agency accused the 18 companies of being part of a cartel that fixed prices for the construction and maintenance of metro and train networks in Brazil, including those in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Siemens told the BBC that it had "zero tolerance for any kind of illegal conduct,” while Alstom was quoted as saying that it was "taking the allegations very seriously".
The companies are alleged to have colluded on 15 separate projects in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sulin and the Brazilian Federal District. The contracts had a combined value of $4 billion, the BBC said, citing a statement provided by Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE).
CADE alleged that the companies had colluded on bids for public tenders, sometimes agreeing amongst themselves that only one company should bid in order to ensure it would win. The agency also said that the companies had bribed a number of officials to secure the contracts.