Dahdaleh Paid $64 Million in Bribes to Alba, U.K. SFO Says

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- British businessman Victor Dahdaleh paid about 40 million pounds ($64 million) in bribes to the former chairman and chief executive officer of Bahrain’s state-owned aluminum producer, a prosecutor said.

Dahdaleh made payments to Bruce Hall, the former CEO of Aluminium Bahrain BSC, known as Alba, and to then Chairman Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa, to win contracts for companies he was acting for, Philip Shears, a prosecutor for the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, said today on the first day of trial in London.

Dahdaleh, a British and Canadian citizen who lives in London, had connections to about 15 companies that were international suppliers to Alba, Shears told jurors.

He had means “to generate funds from these contracts,” Shears said. “The rewards to Mr. Dahdaleh were enormous.”

Dahdaleh is charged with paying about $7.75 million in bribes to officials between 1998 and 2006. He faces six corruption charges, one count of conspiracy to corrupt, and one of transferring criminal property, the SFO said in an indictment.

Hall has pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt and is cooperating with the SFO, Shears said. He will testify tomorrow.

Offshore shell companies were set up by Dahdaleh to act as intermediaries and secure contracts with Alba for large companies, including Alcoa Inc., said prosecutors. In return, Dahdaleh would “cream off a percentage of the contract price,” Shears said. Dahdaleh’s commission was usually around 10 percent.

Code Words

Once the payment mechanisms were in place, Hall and Khalifa told Dahdaleh about other bidders’ prices to allow him “to advise his contracted parties as to correct pricing levels.”

Dahdaleh bought a second mobile phone and used code words when talking to Hall, Shears said.

“If these payments were legitimate then why the need to root them through complex, offshore roots?” Shears said. “There is no paperwork or other documentation to support or explain these payments. No invoices, no correspondence.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Suzi Ring in London at sring5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net