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Alcoa corruption case reopened

District judge reopens Bahraini company’s racketeering lawsuit against U.S. aluminum producer

Yesterday a federal judge reopened a racketeering case against Alcoa Inc., the U.S.’s largest aluminum producer, so that the company can have a chance to clear its name.

In February 2008, Bahrain’s state-owned aluminum company, Aluminium Bahrain BSC, commonly called Alba, sued Alcoa, claiming the American company had paid kickbacks to Bahraini officials after it had overcharged Alba by hundreds of millions of dollars for alumina, a raw material that is used to make aluminum. A month after Alba filed its suit, U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose stayed the case because the Department of Justice (DOJ) began a criminal investigation to find out whether Alcoa violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits bribing foreign officials.

According to Businessweek, in late Alcoa October asked Judge Ambrose to reopen the federal case so that it could seek dismissal, claiming racketeering law doesn’t apply to the extraterritorial conduct Alba is alleging. But days later, the DOJ asked Judge Ambrose to allow it to continue its FCPA investigation of Alcoa for at least six more months.

Alcoa was pleased yesterday when Judge Ambrose ordered Alba to file an amended complaint within 20 days, as well as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statement laying out its racketeering case 30 days after that. Alcoa will then be able to file its motion to dismiss the case.

“After three-and-a-half years we can have our day in court,” Alcoa Spokesperson Lori Lecker said in an email to Businessweek. “We look forward to filing our motion to dismiss.”

Ashley Post

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