An Australian executive who once served as CEO of state-owned Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (“Alba”) was charged on Wednesday in the U.K. with taking bribes.
Bruce Allan Hall, left, appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court. He faces conspiracy and substantive corruption counts under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He was released on bail until his next court hearing in March.
Hall, 59, was extradited from Australia after his arrest there in October last year. He was denied bail while the U.K Serious Fraud Office sought his extradition.
The Australian reported that Hall was CEO of Alba between 2001 and 2005. It said the SFO ‘is investigating millions of dollars in bribes allegedly paid for contracts on behalf of Alcoa Australia.’
In October last year, Alcoa’s former agent for sales to Bahrain was arrested in London and charged with corruption.
Victor Dahdaleh, 63, a dual citizen of Britain and Canada who lives in Belgravia, London, was alleged to have bribed officials at Alba.
The SFO said Dahdaleh allegedly paid the bribes from 2001 to 2005 in connection with contracts between Pittsburgh-based Alcoa and Alba for supplies of alumina shipped from Australia.
Dahdaleh was released on bail. He’s also scheduled to appear in court in March.
He was charged with conspiracy, corruption, and money laundering.
In 2008, the U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Alcoa Inc. and some individuals violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other laws by bribing officials in Bahrain. Employees of state-owned enterprises like Alba are foreign officials under the FCPA. The law prohibits bribes to foreign officials to obtain or retain business.
The U.S. investigation was triggered three weeks after Alba filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Pittsburgh accusing Alcoa of a 15-year conspiracy linked to overcharging, fraud, and bribery. The suit alleged that more than $2 billion in Alba’s payments under supply contracts passed from Bahrain to tiny companies in Singapore, Switzerland, and the Isle of Guernsey, and that some of the money was then used to bribe Bahraini officials involved in granting the contracts. Alba’s suit also named Dahdaleh as a defendant.
Just weeks after Alba brought the civil suit, the DOJ intervened in the case. It asked the court for a stay while the government investigated possible criminal violations of the FCPA and other laws by Alcoa and its executives and agent. The DOJ said the stay was needed to protect potential witnesses against civil discovery.
The stay was lifted late last year. Alcoa then moved to dismiss the civil suit for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The motion is pending.
The Serious Fraud Office’s February 15 release is here.