Malaysia bars Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent has been barred from bidding for contracts from Axiata Group and Telekom Malaysia over claims the equipment vendor bribed staff at the telco to win contracts.
 
Anti-corruption officials today ordered the year-long ban, which covers all tenders, contracts and joint ventures, following an investigation into pay-offs made to gain a lucrative $85 million (€60 million) contract in the country, local newspaper The Star reports.
 
While analysts in the country welcomed the bans, claiming they would restore investor’s faith, Alcatel-Lucent will be back in the running in Malaysia by next March because the bans are backdated. Axiata’s stop runs from February 18, and Telekom Malaysia’s from January 5.
 
An investigation was opened after Alcatel-Lucent admitted funneling $8 million in bribes to officials in the US, Asia and Latin America either directly or through subsidiaries. The vendor agreed to pay $137 million (€96 million) to settle bribery charges in the US in December.
 
In a statement, the firm welcomed the Malaysian decision and said it is committed to regaining customer’s trust, but noted the bribery claims date from before the two companies merged.
 
“The recommendation follows on Alcatel-Lucent’s settlement with the United States Department of Justice and Security Exchange Commission that was announced in December 2010. It focused on activities occurring from 2004 to 2006, prior to the merger of Alcatel and Lucent Technologies.”
 
Separate investigations from Axiata and Telekom Malaysia are continuing. The pair could review the bans once assurances that clear policies are in place to prevent the recurrence of improper conduct.

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