Britain's leading fraud prosecutor on Thursday charged a British subsidiary of French engineering group Alstom with fraud and conspiracy to corrupt.
The charges, announced by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after a five-year investigation concern large transport projects in India, Poland and Tunisia carried out between June 2000 and November 2006.
The SFO said it had begun its investigation after having received information from the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland that concerned the Alstom Group, in particular Alstom Network UK.
The charges by the SFO, flagged by the agency's head David Green in a Reuters interview on Wednesday, come just weeks after the French parent agreed a €12.4bn (£9.84bn) sale of most of its power business to US conglomerate General Electric (GE).
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.
The first court hearing will take place on 9 September. Officials for Alstom in Paris declined to comment.