Alcoa accused of bribing Bahrain officials in $400m deal

US aluminium producer paid millions to Alba and Bahrain gov't, according to court papers
Alcoa accused of bribing Bahrain officials in $400m deal
US aluminium producer Alcoa is accused of bribing officials in Bahrain. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Bloomberg
Fri 30 Dec 2011 12:27 PM

Alcoa was
accused of using a middleman to bribe officials at Bahrain’s state-owned
aluminum producer to reap more than $400m in illegal profit,
according to new claims filed in a racketeering lawsuit.

Alcoa, the
largest US aluminum producer, made tens of millions of dollars in
illegal payments through an intermediary to an official at Aluminium
Bahrain, known as Alba, and the government of Bahrain, according to
court papers filed on Thursday in federal court in Pittsburgh.

The company
also paid more than $5m in bribes to former Alba chief executive
officer Bruce Hall, according to the filing.

Alba sued
Alcoa in February 2008 claiming the New York-based company caused it to
pay inflated prices for alumina, the principal raw material in
aluminum.

The case was closed after the US Justice Department said it
was investigating whether Alcoa made corrupt payments in Bahrain. It was
reopened in November after a judge ruled that Alba could file an
amended complaint and a statement laying out its racketeering case.

Mike Belwood, a spokesman for Alcoa, said the claims in Alba’s case are “not supported by the facts.”

“Nothing in
the statement filed yesterday changes our view,” Belwood said in a phone
interview. “Alba’s statement is yet another recitation of the alleged
misdeed of Victor Dahdaleh and Bahraini officials in an attempt to try
and construct a claim and survive Alcoa’s upcoming motion to dismiss.”

Alcoa asked
to reopen the case in November and sought permission to file a motion
seeking its dismissal because racketeering law “does not apply to the
extraterritorial conduct,” alleged by Alba, according to court papers.

Dahdaleh, a
British and Canadian national who lives in London, was charged in
October by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office with paying bribes to
officials of a smelting company in Bahrain to win contracts for Alcoa to
supply alumina. Dahdaleh denies wrongdoing, according to his law firm,
Allen & Overy.

Hall couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the filing.

Dahdaleh
allegedly received the payments from Alcoa and transferred those in the
form of bribes to induce former officers of Alba and the Bahrain
government to ensure Alcoa retained the business, according to the court
filing. The payments also pressured those officials to provide
competing bid information to Dahdaleh. Dahdaleh funneled the bribes
through numerous shell companies, according to the filing.

Alcoa said
in an October court filing that it has cooperated over the past three
years in the Justice Department probe and a related investigation by the
US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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