From Justin Gengler’s blog:
Monday, December 16, 2013
Billionaire Victor Dahdaleh did not dispute that he paid £38m to Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa, Alba’s former chairman and a close adviser of the prime minister, to win $3bn of contracts for companies including Alcoa of the US. Mr Dahdaleh’s lawyers argued in court, however, that the payments were not corrupt because they were known about and approved by Alba’s government-controlled board. …
Bruce Hall, Alba’s former chief executive, has pleaded guilty to corruption and will be sentenced shortly. During his cross-examination, he agreed with the description of tensions in Bahrain, where “the royal family is all-powerful” and where “nothing of significance happened in Bahrain without the approval of the prime minister.”
Mr Hall described Alba’s board as “dysfunctional,” agreeing with the premise that the majority Bahraini members “accepted that what Isa and the prime minister said, went”.
The trial also highlighted tensions within the ruling family. Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the reformist-minded crown prince, led attempts to reform Alba well before the unrest of the Arab uprising reopened Bahrain’s sectarian divide.
The court heard that Mr Hall was summoned to the crown prince on his appointment as chief executive in 2001 and asked to report any corruption he might witness. But Mr Hall said that he felt he could only report to the crown prince if Sheikh Isa knew.
A turning point that helped hasten the trial’s collapse was a letter from one of Bahrain’s five deputy prime ministers, Jamel Saleem al-Arayed, who also advises the prime minister on legal affairs. He wrote that all payments made by Mr Dahdaleh in connection with Alba were known about by its board.
The letter was read out during cross-examination of Sasi Mallela, an SFO lawyer.
This comes, of course, fourteen months after Alba’s $85m settlement of a separate bribery suit with Alcoa filed in a U.S. court. Yes, that’s right: Alba successfully sued Alcoa for bribing its [Alba's] own executives, namely Sh. ‘Isa.
One hopes that some non-”opposition” groups will be willing to cross the political line here to join al-Wifaq and others in calling for a domestic investigation, since that’s the only way there is a chance of one.
Bahrain: Attack on Freedom of Expression Continues as Al Salman is Charged after Press Conference: here.
Aluminium firm Alcoa to pay $384m after guilty plea over Bahrain bribes. Multinational group agrees settlement in US after admitting offence involving kickbacks to Bahraini officials: here.
- Victor Dahdaleh corruption case collapses (engineeringevil.com)
- Serious Fraud Office is forced to drop case against Blair’s friend Victor Dahdaleh (dailymail.co.uk)
- Bahraini Prime Minister in corruption scandal (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Trial of Labour donor Victor Dahdaleh abandoned (theguardian.com)
- Fresh reversal for SFO as £40m bribery trial collapses (telegraph.co.uk)
- Victor Dahdaleh corruption case collapses (independent.co.uk)
- ‘Bahrain deputy PM tried to intervene in UK bribery case’ (arabtimesonline.com)
- Dahdaleh prosecution collapses, key witnesses from Akin Gump refuse to testify (fcpablog.com)
- Bahraini minister tried to intervene in UK bribery case, court hears (trust.org)
- Serious Fraud Office reviews collapsed case with aim of ‘learning lessons’ (theguardian.com)