Former CEO of Bahrain's Alba jailed in UK for corruption

Bruce Hall, a key witness in a collapsed bribery case, was sentenced to 16 mths in prison & ordered to pay $5.1m
Former CEO of Bahrain's Alba jailed in UK for corruption
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Reuters
Thu 24 Jul 2014 10:52 AM

Bruce Hall, a former chief executive of Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) and a key witness in a high-profile British corruption trial that collapsed last year, was sentenced to 16 months in prison and ordered to pay £3 million ($5.1 million) by a London court on Tuesday.

The sentence is some compensation for Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which was criticised by a judge for mismanagement after abandoning its prosecution of Victor Dahdaleh mid-trial - partly because of Hall's testimony.

The collapsed trial embarrassed the SFO at a time when its head, David Green, was trying to restore confidence in its crime-busting abilities after a series of blunders under previous management in other high-profile cases.

Having pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to corrupt, Hall gave evidence for the prosecution in the case against Dahdaleh, a businessman accused of paying about $67 million in bribes to former managers of Alba in return for a cut in contracts worth more than $3 billion.

But Hall gave a markedly different account in court from the witness statement he had provided to the SFO.

His U-turn, and the decision by two key US witnesses to refuse to testify in last year's UK trial, forced the SFO to drop its case against Dahdaleh and concede there was no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction.

The SFO said Hall received £2.9 million pounds in corrupt payments between 2002 and 2005, including 10,000 Bahraini dinars ($26,500) in cash from Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini royal family and, at the time, Bahrain's minister of finance and Alba's chairman.

In return, Hall allowed corrupt arrangements that Sheikh Isa had been involved in before Hall's appointment to continue.

"Corruption has been described as an insidious plague that has corrosive effects across communities," said Judge Loraine-Smith. "This was an extremely serious use of corruption."

Hall must pay a fine of just over £3 million in seven days or face an additional prison term of 10 years. He has also been ordered to pay Alba compensation of around £500,000 and £100,000 towards prosecution costs.

The 119 days he spent behind bars in Australia while awaiting extradition will count towards his sentence.

Had he failed to co-operate with the authorities and plead guilty, he would have faced a sentence of some six years - close to the maximum sentence for the offence - the judge said.

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