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Racketeering case against Alcoa will move forward

Suit accuses aluminum company of paying bribes in Bahrain

A federal judge has ruled that the racketeering case against Alcoa may move forward—despite the aluminum maker’s bid in January to dismiss the suit, saying the claims against it aren’t supported by law or fact.

The case dates back to 2008, when Aluminum Bahrain (Alba)—a state-owned aluminum company in Bahrain—filed suit against Alcoa, claiming Alcoa conspired to overcharge Alba for alumina, a substance used to make aluminum. That case, which was reopened last year, accuses Alcoa of paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials at Alba in return for inflated contracts. Alba is seeking $1 billion in damages and claims that Alcoa received $400 million in illegal profits during the scheme.

Alcoa argues that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act could not be used against it in this case because this case involved a foreign company. However, U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose said, based on Alba’s claims, the scheme originated in the U.S.

"The control of the enterprise, the decision-making vital to the sustainability of the enterprise, came from Pittsburgh," Ambrose wrote in her ruling yesterday.

Alcoa spokewoman Libby Archell said in a statement that the judge’s decision not to dismiss that case is not a ruling on its merits. "We look forward to presenting the facts related to Alba's allegations and vigorously defending our position as the litigation unfolds," she said.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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