Sweden considering appeal of acquitted Bombardier employee in bribery case

Sweden considering appeal of acquitted Bombardier employee in bribery case

MONTREAL — A Swedish prosecutor says he is considering appealing Wednesday’s acquittal of a Russian employee in the Swedish branch of train maker Bombardier for aggravated bribery in one of the country’s biggest corruption cases to date.

“We’ll definitely consider that at this point,” Thomas Forsberg said from Stockholm.

Prosecutors have three weeks to decide whether or not to appeal the court decision, but will likely make a decision by next week, he said in an interview.

The Stockholm District Court said “it could not be proven” that Evgeny Pavlov, an employee of Bombardier Transportation Sweden AB, “has promised or offered an unfair advantage, which is a prerequisite for the existence of a bribe.”

Pavlov had been accused of bribery to win a contract for a signalling system with a contract value of around US$340 million. He was facing a six-year jail sentence and deportation.

In a statement, Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) said it was “pleased with the outcome” in court.

“Bombardier had always denied any allegation of criminal wrongdoing, and we are happy to see the court’s conclusions in this regard,” spokesman Simon Letendre wrote in an email.

In 2013, Bombardier was part of a consortium awarded a contract to supply signalling equipment for a 500-kilometre (300-mile) track along a corridor connecting Asia and Europe to Azerbaijan Railways.

“He has been acquitted. This is really positive,” his lawyer Cristina Bergner told The Associated Press, adding she had not been able to speak to her client yet.

When Pavlov was released Oct. 4 after seven months in jail, “we knew he would be acquitted.”

He was arrested in March and ordered held in pre-trial custody to prevent him from fleeing or tampering with evidence. Emails seized in October 2016 during a search of Bombardier offices in Sweden were considered evidence in the case.

Bergner had repeatedly said her client is innocent.

The court said prosecutors “have not proved that … there was expectation that the official would affect the railway authority in the procurement.”

Forsberg said he was more surprised than disappointed by the verdict.

He said the preliminary investigation is still ongoing and charges against others could still be laid next year.

“We will continue our efforts investigating this in localities and any other people from Bombardier who might be involved,” he added.

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With files from The Associated Press and Julien Arsenault. Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

Ross Marowits, The Associated Press

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