FCPA: Albemarle Corp. Bribery Charges: $200 Million Settlement

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a settlement with Charlotte-based Albemarle Corporation. The global specialty chemicals company will pay over $103.6 million following charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  A paralell cash settlement of $115 million with the Justice Department brings the company's costs to nearly $220 million.

The SEC highlighted the company’s involvement in bribery, recordkeeping, and internal accounting controls.

The SEC’s Order reveals that Albemarle, from 2009 to 2017, employed agents to facilitate payments to increase sales of refinery catalysts to public-sector oil refineries in countries such as Vietnam, India, and Indonesia. The company also made payments to private-sector oil refineries in India.

Additionally, charges against the corporation include FCPA’s recordkeeping violations and the absence of an effective internal accounting control system. This system did not verify the legitimacy of payments made to agents in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China, and the United Arab Emirates.

Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit, provided details on the matter. “Albemarle had several indicators related to bribery. The lack of appropriate internal accounting controls, especially in relation to their global refining solutions business and sales to state-owned entities, led to this situation.”

In response to the charges, Albemarle has consented to the SEC’s Order, acknowledging the violation of multiple provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. As a result, Albemarle is directed to pay a disgorgement of over $81.8 million, with an additional prejudgment interest of more than $21.7 million.

In a concurrent development, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an agreement with Albemarle. The DOJ has entered into a non-prosecution arrangement with the company. According to this agreement, Albemarle will pay a $99 million fine and forfeit around $98 million, with $81.8 million of this amount being credited by the disgorgement payment to the SEC.

In 1994, Ethyl Corporation completed the corporate spin-off of its chemical businesses to form Albemarle Corporation.  The company is now a $7 billion concern with interests in lithium, bromines and catalysts.

[DOJ Release] [SEC Press Release]. [SEC Order]. [DOJ NPA].