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Wed 2 Nov 2011 08:08 PM

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Bahraini royal denies taking bribes in Alba case

Former Alba chairman dismisses corruption allegations made in UK court

Bahraini royal denies taking bribes in Alba case
The High Court, London. (For illustration purposes only)

A member of the Bahraini royal family has denied accusations of corruption made against him in a UK court case involving a London-based businessman and contracts involving Bahraini aluminium producer Alba and US giant Alcoa .

Corruption has been a key issue that the opposition in the Gulf Arab state, who led a protest movement for more democracy earlier this year, has focused on.

The government, dominated by the ruling Al Khalifa family, has said it will take new measures to combat it. It shut down the uprising in February and March, saying it was driven by the sectarian concerns of majority Shi'ites and backed by Iran.

"Isa Bin Ali Al-Khalifa wishes to categorically deny the allegations of corruption reported against him in the press following the charges brought against certain parties," said the statement, provided by his Paris-based lawyer Ardavan Amir-Aslani.

It said Sheikh Isa, a former Bahraini oil minister and Alba board chairman, "is not directly targeted by the on-going legal procedures in relation to the Alba (Aluminium Bahrain) matter".

British and Canadian national Victor Dahdaleh was arrested and charged last week with paying bribes to officials of state-controlled Alba, linked to contracts with US-based Alcoa.

Dahdaleh has said he will contest the charges.

Sheikh Isa is named in the charge sheet as a co-conspirator and accused of taking almost $6m in bribes.

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) said last month it was taking legal action to recover losses stemming from alleged fraudulent contracts involving Dahdaleh, after Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) office arrested him.

The contracts were for supplies of intermediate product alumina, shipped to Bahrain from Australia, and for the supply of further goods and services to Alba, according to the SFO.

Alba said last month it had recovered more than $30m from European companies but has not said how much the total losses are.

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

The company also said 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.

Dahdaleh, who appeared in court in London on Monday and faces six charges of corruption and two of money laundering, has successfully appealed bail conditions that initially required a 10 million pound security to be paid, tagging and a ban on overseas travel. Both the security and the electronic tag condition have been waived after a hearing on Wednesday.

Dahdaleh will be due in court again on January13.

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