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FRA was retained by US counsel to Alstom (market cap: over $10 billion) to assist with defending a US securities class action suit. The case involved allegations around export credit financing of a division that Alstom had sold to a third party. The project began as a two-week data collection assignment and escalated into a cross-border effort that would save the client billions of dollars.
The case presented a number of challenges, first of which was a short timeframe. Because of the sale of the business unit, we had a few short months to identify and capture the relevant data. This was complicated by data retention issues due to employees’ lack of understanding of the litigation hold notice issued by the company. Since the client was a European company with no experience in US discovery, we advised client and counsel throughout the process and mitigated their concerns by creating a bespoke solution for their needs.
During the collection phase, we helped develop consent forms and educate custodians on how to manage their data. We collected a large variety of data, including project management databases, emails, and even procured equipment to restore back-up tapes dating to the 1980s. We then developed a customized approach to the review and triage of information, integrating the process with data analytics capability in order to prove to the opposing parties that there had been no spoliation. On the investigative accounting side, FRA reviewed the revenue recognition on contracts and the loss occasioned on them, focusing in particular on asset-based financing structures, collateral arrangements and net exposure to investors. FRA then hosted the data for review by the legal team in a manner that was compliant with French data protection laws and the French Blocking Statute. Finally, we identified the appropriate mechanism for the cross-border transfer of responsive data to the US.
Our work for Alstom demonstrated not only our ability to identify and focus on the richest sources of data, but also our understanding of the risks associated with multi-jurisdiction investigation and litigation, and our ability to speak in their native French language.
Alstom agreed to pay a fine of more than $700 million to resolve charges related to a widespread scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes in countries around the world, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Bahamas. The final settlement, which remains second in the top ten of all FCPA settlement cases, saw damages cut by 95% from the initial claim. Since this case began in 2006, we have continued to be market leaders in eDiscovery consulting services, particularly in multi-jurisdictional data governance matters.