Aluminium giant Alcoa recently settled a major bribery case involving officials in Bahrain.
CNN reports that Alcoa agreed to pay out a $384 million USD settlement on multiple civil and criminal charges levied against them by the US Department of Justice. The charges concern “bribes, which authorities say were done through a London-based consultant with connections to Bahrain’s royal family.”
While Alcoa was quick to point out that no one official has been accused of bribery, the USDoJ contends that “lack of knowledge does not excuse Alcoa.” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman added, “The law does not permit companies to avoid responsibility for foreign corruption by outsourcing bribery to their agents, and, as today’s prosecution demonstrates, neither will the Department of Justice.”
The Middle East region for Alcoa bears close connections with Iceland. Tómas Már Sigurðsson was last November put in charge of Alcoa in the Middle East. He is not specifically named in USDoJ charges against Alcoa – and in fact, the alleged criminal activity occurred before his arrival.
The case against Alcoa goes back to 2008, with most charges settled in 2012. The latest settlement payout puts to rest other outstanding charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and USDoJ concerning Alcoa’s practices in the Middle East.
Forbes points out that “According to the [SEC], Alcoa either knew or was willfully blind to the red flags associated with such an arrangement, and used the consultant to pay bribes to Bahraini officials by using ‘commissions’ paid to the consultant by Alcoa’s subsidiary.”