Albemarle Corporation Settles FCPA Violations, Pays $218 Million

Introduction:

Albemarle Corporation, a publicly-traded specialty chemicals manufacturing company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, has reached an agreement to pay more than $218 million to resolve investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

These investigations focused on alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) related to Albemarle’s involvement in corrupt practices in various foreign countries.

Alleged Corrupt Schemes:

Business Conduct in Vietnam, Indonesia, and India According to the admissions made by Albemarle as part of the DOJ’s resolution, the company, along with its third-party sales agents and subsidiary employees, was involved in conspiracies to pay bribes to government officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, and India between 2009 and 2017.

The primary goal of these corrupt schemes was to secure and maintain chemical catalyst business with state-owned oil refineries in these countries.

These unethical practices resulted in profits of approximately $98.5 million for Albemarle.

DOJ’s Response:

Commitment to Fighting International Corruption Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the DOJ’s Criminal Division emphasized the department’s dedication to combating international corruption.

She noted that Albemarle had gained nearly $100 million through schemes involving bribes to government officials in multiple countries.

Argentieri also highlighted the benefits that companies can obtain by self-disclosing misconduct, cooperating extensively, and taking substantial remedial actions.

Response in Vietnam, Indonesia, and India:

Specifics of Corrupt Practices In Vietnam, Albemarle secured contracts at state-owned oil refineries through an intermediary sales agent who demanded increased commissions to facilitate bribes to Vietnamese officials.

A similar pattern emerged in Indonesia, where Albemarle utilized a third-party intermediary to obtain catalyst business with Indonesia’s state-owned oil company, despite being informed that bribes were necessary to secure business.

In India, Albemarle employed a third-party intermediary to maintain catalyst business with the state-owned oil company, thereby avoiding blacklisting.

Legal Settlement Details:

Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA) Albemarle entered into a three-year non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with the DOJ. As part of this settlement, the company agreed to pay a penalty of approximately $98.2 million and an administrative forfeiture of approximately $98.5 million.

The penalty included a reduction of $763,453 under the Criminal Division’s Compensation Incentives and Clawbacks Pilot Program.

Additionally, Albemarle committed to paying approximately $103.6 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest as part of the SEC’s parallel investigation.

Cooperation and Compliance:

Ongoing Cooperation and Compliance Measures Pursuant to the NPA, Albemarle agreed to continue cooperating with the DOJ in any ongoing or future criminal investigations related to this conduct.

The company also committed to enhancing its compliance program and providing regular reports to the DOJ regarding remediation and the implementation of compliance measures throughout the three-year term of the NPA.

Conclusion:

The DOJ’s resolution with Albemarle considered various factors, including the nature and seriousness of the offense. While Albemarle voluntarily disclosed its misconduct, it was not deemed “reasonably prompt.”

However, the company received credit for its cooperation and extensive remedial measures, leading to a reduction in the criminal penalty.

This settlement underscores the commitment to fighting corruption, regardless of its location, as emphasized by U.S. Attorney Dena J. King for the Western District of North Carolina.

The article also mentions that IRS-CI (IRS Criminal Investigation) is involved in the case, along with details about the prosecutors and international cooperation in the matter.

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