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Dahdaleh to fight charges

Manama, October 27, 2011

Victor Dahdaleh, a 68-year-old British-Canadian, alleged to have paid bribes to Alba officials connected to contracts with US company Alcoa, was arrested and charged by the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in London on Monday.

According to the SFO, the contracts were for supplies of intermediate product alumina shipped to Bahrain from Australia and for the supply of further goods and services to Alcoa.

However, in a statement published on Dahdaleh's website www.victordahdaleh.com, a spokesman for lawyers representing him, Allen and Overy, said he believed he had done nothing wrong.

'Dahdaleh believes the investigation into his affairs was flawed and that he has done absolutely nothing wrong,' the statement read. 'He will be vigorously contesting these charges at every stage, confident in clearing his good name.'

The GDN reported in March 2008 that Alba was seeking more than $1 billion (BD378 million) in damages from Alcoa, which it accused of trying to acquire a controlling stake of its business at a depressed price and extort excessive fees.

The Alba suit, filed in a federal court in Pittsburgh, alleged that Alcoa steered payments for an aluminium precursor ingredient to a group of small, offshore companies to pay kickbacks to at least one Bahraini senior official.

Dahdaleh was allegedly the man responsible for negotiating Alcoa's contracts in Bahrain and was entrusted with accepting payments to be passed on to the company.

According to court documents seen by the GDN at the time, Bahrain's government signed a memorandum of understanding in 2003 for the sale of up to 26 per cent of the country's shares in Alba to Alcoa or a controlled affiliate.

It was alleged that the offer was rejected after it was concluded that the government shares had been undervalued, but that the government was subsequently pressured into accepting the deal to ensure the Free Trade Agreement with the US went ahead.

Dahdaleh, who has been widely reported to be a friend of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton, has been released on conditional police bail to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Alba officials welcomed his arrest and described it as a 'critical development'.

The statement went on to reveal that more than $30m (BD11.34m) had so far been recovered by Alba from European companies in relation to the ongoing case.

Dahdaleh's arrest comes almost a year after three former Alba marketing officials were jailed for seven years and fined more than $1 million (BD500,000) on charges of money laundering, fraud and bribery. They had apparently pocketed more than $17m (BD6.4m) in laundered funds through Swiss and British back accounts between 1999 and 2004. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Alba | London | Alcoa | bribe | charges | arrest | Serious Fraud Office |

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