Monday, August 18, 2014

Billionaire Found in Middle of Bribery Case Avoids U.S. Probe

Victor Dahdaleh

Victor Dahdaleh arrives at Southwark Crown Court, London, after being charged in connection with an alleged £700 million bribery scandal. Photographer: Anthony Devlin/PA

In January, a unit of Alcoa Inc. (AA:US), the biggest U.S. aluminum producer, pleaded guilty to foreign bribery charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department. Alcoa also settled claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission and agreed to pay a $384 million fine -- the fifth-largest such penalty ever.

The Alcoa subsidiary admitted to paying bribes to government officials in Bahrain for more than a decade to win contracts to sell alumina, a compound essential in making aluminum, to the Persian Gulf state’s processing plant. Not named and not charged in the case was the person who made those payments, whom the Justice Department identified in court only as “Consultant A.”

In the thriving business of global bribery -- which the World Bank says amounts to $1 trillion in illicit payments annually -- guilty pleas like the one by Alcoa’s unit are rare. Rarer still are convictions against the people who actually arrange and deliver the payments, Bloomberg Markets will report in its September issue.


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