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Mon 31 Oct 2011 08:03 AM

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Bahrain royal accused in $6m UK corruption case

Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa named as co-conspirator in bribery case linked to Bahrain's Alba

Bahrain royal accused in $6m UK corruption case
The High Court, London. (For illustration purposes only)

A member of Bahrain’s royal family has been named as a
co-conspirator in a UK fraud probe into deals made by a London-based
businessman man between Alcoa, the US aluminium group, and state-backed Bahrain
Aluminium (Alba), it was reported Sunday.

Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa, cousin and adviser to the
Kingdom’s prime minister, has been accused by the UK's Serious Fraud Office
(SFO) of  accepting $6m in bribes from Victor
Dahdaleh, the Financial Times reported.

The charge sheet, obtained by the newspaper, claims Dahdaleh
paid $5,999,944 to Sheikh Isa - then chairman of Alba and oil minister. The
three alleged payments were made between March 2003 and June 2004, the
newspaper quoted the charge sheet as saying.

The SFO confirmed to the newspaper that Sheikh Isa had been
named in Dahdaleh charge sheet.

The charge sheet also said Dahdaleh allegedly made two corrupt
payments in 2004 to Alba’s former chief executive, Bruce Hall, totalling about
$384,000. A third alleged payment of £852,000 was also made to Hall, the paper

Alba said last week that it had suffered "substantial
losses" from the series of transactions at the centre of the UK fraud

The aluminium smelter said it had recovered more than $30m
to date but had still lost "very large amounts of money" through the
contracts linked to Canadian billionaire Dahdaleh.

On Oct 24, the SFO said Dahdaleh had been charged with
corruption offences and released on police bail to appear at City of
Westminster Magistrates' Court on Oct 31.

“Today marks a critical turning point in the investigation
that began nearly five years ago. The conduct of Victor Dahdaleh, Alcoa and
others resulted in substantial losses to Alba and its shareholders,” Mahmood
Al-Kooheji, Alba's chairman, said in an emailed statement.

He said the investigation revolved around an alleged bribery
scheme involving the sale price for finished aluminum sold by Alba.

“Our aim, from the start, has been to recover the very large
amounts of money that were unlawfully taken from Alba and from Bahrain by these
corrupt activities.”

Dahdaleh, a British and Canadian national residing in
Belgravia, London is alleged to have made payments of bribes to officials of
Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), a smelting company in Bahrain with majority state

He denies the charges and his lawyers said he would
vigorously contest them, adding that the investigation into his activities were

Dahdaleh’s website identifies him as the owner and chairman
of Dadco, an investment, manufacturing and trading group with global

Alba said it has filed a civil suit seeking damages against
Dahdaleh, Alcoa, and a group of other related individual and corporate
defendants in the US District Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The company also revealed it filed a suit in December 2009
against the Japanese trading company Sojitz Corp in the US District Court in
Houston, Texas, in connection with bribery allegations linked to the sale price
for finished aluminium sold by Alba.

Alba is ranked as one of the largest aluminium smelters in
the world, and produces more than 860,000 metric tonnes per annum of aluminium.