Discovery in Alcoa lawsuit can proceed, Department of Justice says
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The U.S. Justice Department no longer has any objection to discovery going forward in a civil lawsuit against Alcoa accusing the company of involvement in bribery in the Middle East, according to documents filed in federal court late Wednesday.
Jeffrey H. Knox, acting chief of the department's Fraud Section, and deputy chief Adam G. Safwat authored a notice telling the court that over the past four years, during most of which the lawsuit was on hold at the department's request, "the government has been able to conduct its criminal investigation free from the distraction of parallel civil discovery. ... [T]he commencement of civil discovery at this time will not so unduly interfere with its ongoing investigation as to warrant a continued stay of discovery."
The notice comes a week after U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose denied motions by Alcoa and other defendants who sought to have the racketeering case against them dismissed.
Middle Eastern firm Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C., often called Alba and operator of one of the world's largest smelters, alleges that Alcoa paid $13.5 million in commissions to a middleman. Those commissions were converted into bribes to officials of Alba and the Government of Bahrain, Alba claims.
The bribes, Alba alleges, caused it to overpay Alcoa subsidiaries for alumina to the tune of $400 million.
Alcoa has denied any impropriety. The middleman, Victor Dahdaleh, faces corruption charges in the United Kingdom.
First Published June 21, 2012 9:19 am