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National Grid rocked by US scandal over contract bribes

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An electricity pylon
An electricity pylon

National Grid has been dragged into a corruption scandal in the US, with five former managers in the company's New York business accused of accepting bribes to steer contracts to certain local contractors.

The men were arrested last month and accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks between 2013 and 2020, in the form of cash, college tuition payments and holidays.

According to New York prosecutors, one major contractor who secured more than $50m [£36m] in facility maintenance contracts understood that if it did not pay bribes, the work would be awarded to its competitors.

It is claimed the defendants at times complained that the bribes had not been large enough, with one allegedly texting a contractor to say the “sandwich was light on the meat.”

The FTSE 100 company owns Britain’s main electricity and gas networks and also has a growing US division which owns electricity and gas distribution networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and also supplies energy directly to households.

The US business made sales of £9bn last year and profit of £1.5bn.

The New York State Department of Public Service, which oversees utilities in the state, has opened an investigation into National Grid’s local gas business on the back of the allegations, to determine whether customers were financially harmed.

National Grid said it had fully cooperated with and supported the US Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation, was conducting its own investigation, and will work with regulators to improve any procedures where appropriate.

A spokesman added: “National Grid is committed to the highest ethical standards for our company and our employees. The alleged misconduct is unacceptable, we have zero tolerance for it.”