15 January 2014
Business Crime Solicitor says SFO may face pressure on prosecutions
On the 9 January 2014 the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Alcoa World Alumina admitted involvement in a scheme involving the payments of bribes to government officials in Bahrain in order to secure business. As a result the company has agreed to pay a total of $384million in criminal and regulatory penalties explains Business Crime Solicitor Kyle Phillips.......
The agreed settlement follows the collapse of the SFO case (9 December 2013) brought against Victor Dahdelah, a “power broker” for Alcoa who had been accused of paying bribes to the chairman of a Bahrain state controlled aluminium company, Alba.
The decision was taken by the SFO to drop the prosecution against the Canadian-British business man, following a 6 year investigation. Dahdalah was accused of paying £40m bribes to Alba in return for a cut from contracts worth £2bn. The SFO said there was no longer a realistic prospect of a successful prosecution after witnesses refused to give evidence, and it was claimed a further witness changed his evidence during the trial.
This was the latest in a line of reversals that have seen the SFO come under pressure to show that it has teeth. The current Director of the SFO, David Green QC has been asked to restore confidence.
Mr Green has admitted that the SFO is under pressure and that “2014 will be about putting the past behind us”. It is likely therefore that the New Year will see greater enforcement action from the SFO, with cases like the LIBOR investigations being prominent.
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