The Alstom affair, which exploded like a bomb one day in April 2014 with a dispatch from the Bloomberg agency announcing the plan to buy Alstom’s Energy branch by General Electric, actually began a year earlier, at New York John F. Kennedy Airport. On October 25, 2021, the magazine “Sensitive Affairs” tells a thriller against a backdrop of industrial espionage and corruption. With, in particular, the detailed testimony of Frédéric Pierucci, collateral victim of this controversial sale.
In this excerpt, we are on Sunday, April 14, 2013. The flight of the Cathay Pacific from Singapore has just landed. A hostess announces that one of the passengers, Frédéric Pierruci, is expected on the bridge. This senior Alstom executive, used to going to the United States for his work, joined the landing gate without any suspicion.
“The door opened, and I had a welcoming committee: five people from the FBI waiting for me, who told me I was under arrest. I don’t understand why at all. I’m arrested, so it’s in complete shock. “Frédéric Pierucci, former Alstom executive
in “Sensitive matters”
Without a word of explanation, he is led to a tower in Manhattan, to the headquarters of the FBI. On the 23rd floor, in an interrogation room, the executive finds himself handcuffed to the wall like a criminal. A prosecutor from the US Department of Justice announces to him that he has violated the anti-corruption law in force in the United States. This prosecutor is investigating corrupt practices in which Alstom and Frédéric Pierucci allegedly engaged in obtaining contracts. The Frenchman is amazed: he had no idea of the risk he was taking by coming to the United States. But the prosecutor quickly offered him a deal. If he accepts it, he will be able to come out free.
“There, the prosecutor offers me to play the mole inside the company. It means that you go to work every day, with a microphone under your jacket, and that you record your colleagues, and in particular the CEO of the group.”
The CEO of the group, who was then Patrick Kron, would therefore also be in the sights of American justice … But Frédéric Pierucci wants to remain loyal to his company, and he refuses the market. Authorized to make a phone call, he calls Alstom’s legal director. “Don’t worry, you’ll just spend that night in jail, would have promised him this one. Tomorrow I’m going to send you a lawyer, you’ll be out on bail, and we’ll fix it once you get home. “
“This is not at all what happened”, continues Frédéric Pierucci. Sent to the high security prison in Wyatt, Rhode Island, he will stay there for months, rubbing shoulders with traffickers and hardened criminals. Violence, loneliness and promiscuity are part of his daily life, he lives in fear of brawls and settling of scores.
“Very quickly, they put me in a dormitory. It was a dormitory of 54 people, with light 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with somewhat complicated hygienic conditions: 4 toilets without doors, without wall, etc. “
At the time, the French authorities were not informed of this arrest. ”Who is Pierucci? Why is he arrested? It went totally under the radar“, remembers Arnaud Montebourg, then Minister of the Economy, Productive Recovery and Digital (during his interview for” Sensitive Affairs “, he had not yet announced his candidacy for the presidential election of 2022).
Extract from “Alstom Affair: the Secret War”, an investigation by Sylvain Pak and Gaël Hubert to see on October 21, 2021 in “Sensitive Affairs”, magazine presented by Fabrice Drouelle and co-produced by France Télévisions, France Inter and INA d ‘ after the original broadcast of France Inter.
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