Bahrain on the front page

There is nothing better than having a warm breakfast on a very cold day. Couple that with reading a good newspaper and find that your country is mentioned in a good light on the front page, and one would have an excellent start to the day:

Alcoa Faces Allegation By Bahrain of Bribery
By Glenn R. Simpson

A company controlled by the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain accused Alcoa Corp. of a 15-year conspiracy involving overcharging, fraud and bribery.

WSJ - ALBA corruption caseA suit in federal court in Pittsburgh by Aluminum Bahrain BSC alleged that Alcoa steered payments for an aluminum precursor ingredient to a group of tiny companies abroad, in order to pay kickbacks to a Bahraini “senior government official.” The Bahraini firm, known as Alba, alleged that Alcoa had overcharged it for the precursor material, alumina.

Bank records and invoices show that more than $2 billion in Alba’s payments for alumina passed from Bahrain to tiny companies in Singapore, Switzerland and the Isle of Guernsey. The suit alleged that some of the money found is way back to officials involved in granting the contracts.

“Defendants…furthered their fraud through bribes paid to one or more official of the Government of Bahrain,” said the suit, which didn’t name the officials and didn’t cite any direct evidence of such payments.
The Wall Street Journal – 28 Feb, ’08 subscription required for full article

Fantastic, not because something is seriously about to unravel here, and hopefully several culpable morons would be indicted (holding breath) but the real good story is that it seems Mumtalakat has opted to file the suit in a US court against a US company. Why is that significant I hear you ask? Well, because the defendant in the US court will ask for full disclosure of documents to sustain and support the fraud allegation, something I believed that Bahrain and its government is not ready to do, but this – hopefully – will prove my error. Washing dirty laundry in public sends a clear message that the cause of that dirty laundry will no longer be tolerated. Transparency has a chance of infusing all levels of the system.

It is high time that this squandering of resources, corruption and nepotism is ended and funds judiciously used to better the lives of regular Bahrainis.

Carry on like this for a little longer and get some results in actually impeaching and throwing corrupt officials in jail for the rest of their natural, and I would be the first in line to elect Talal Al-Zain as Speaker, Mohammed bin Essa as Prime Minister and their boss as God!

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15 Comments
  • Astro
    28 February 2008

    Your dream team appear to have played their first hand in the Wall Street Journal, but their manifesto has already been published by the Financial Times. Interesting article on the linke below:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7065ab9e-e0e9-11dc-b0d7-0000779fd2ac.html

  • anon
    28 February 2008

    الفال انشالله حق طيران الخليج

  • B
    29 February 2008

    The same reason for not selling Alcoa 26% of Bahrain’s share in Alba in 2003.

    Alcoa offered $600 million for the stake while the true value was closer to $1 billion!
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=az5sv6qVkKPk

    I heared that Bahrain Government stopped the deal because they were not happy with the terms and the price. Thanks God they didn’t do this stupid mistake!

  • No Need
    29 February 2008

    The tail is wagging the dog here. Suing a foreign company for bribing bahraini officials.. ok.. but shouldn’t these officials and their supervisors be in the docks here first?

  • Astro
    29 February 2008

    No Need: the tactics may confuse you but the ultimate goal is patently clear. We’re talking grown up politics hear not the playground stuff we see in the National Assembly.

    Besides, I bet it will be a lot easier to track down ill gotten gains using a US court ruling than it would be with Bahraini laws……I feel sorry for the Bahraini officials who are going to get caught up in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

  • Sadek
    1 March 2008

    But where does it stop?

  • Astro
    1 March 2008

    Sadek: still a lot of tentacles to cut before you get rid of the octopus….

  • bahraini4eva
    1 March 2008

    Mumtalakat Holding Co Bahrain has crossed a significant barrier by exposing corruption charges and justly seeking compensation for these harmful practices. Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) has been featured in the news a lot ever since it’s top-bottom restructure and has obviously proven to be a worthwhile investment for the government of Bahrain. Gulf Air Company,Bahrain Airport Co,Bahrain Real Estate Company,etc need to follow its lead as we haven’t seen much (if any) positive signs from these corporations yet!

  • No Need
    1 March 2008

    Astro, please enlighten me and explain “grown up” politics of going after Alcoa in the US, and I’m assuming you are familiar with the us litigation process and how time and money consuming it is, BEFORE we clean our own backyard?

    I am totally for suing Alcoa, because what they did was unethical… but if we are serious about reform.. shouldn’t we find out WHO was GETTING bribed.. and start the clean up process from there?

    And what I find “confusing” the most, is why should we leverage on the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, if we are serious about reforms and transparency once and for all? Why couldn’t we act on a Domestic Corrupt Practices Act of our own and take gulf air, ministry of finance, alba, babco and the rest to the cleaners today rather than wait for a ruling that might or might not come and act on it 20 years from now?

  • mbahrain
    2 March 2008

    Mahmood,

    I didn’t get that last line thier talal al zain as speaker to what ? and that god part please explain.

  • Astro
    2 March 2008

    No need: you need to reach out to Uncle Sam because a self-interested executive branch may not be so keen to clean the stable just yet. The reform faction has obviously concluded that the turkeys won’t vote for christmas 😕

  • Kiwi Nomad
    3 March 2008

    You’ll probably find that the culprits in ALBA have already been quietly moved aside, but of course thanks to Bahrain’s Press & Publications law the citizens concerned can’t be publicly named. Of course, a legal case in the USA should easily circumvent Bahrain’s media restrictions…

  • Ali
    3 March 2008

    What is to stop the case from bieng dropped at the last minute or can ALCOA insist upon their day in court. I think that such a case will inevitably be dropped by the plaintiff as it sounds just like a political move and an abuse of the US legal system for personal motives.

  • No Need
    3 March 2008

    I see what you’re saying Astro. But people like me are sick and tired of 8 years of half assed “reforms” in the shape of a toothless tiger.

    The least I want to see is naming the government official and relieving him of his duties like the two petty alba employees that followed his orders. Is that too much to ask?

  • Abu Arron
    5 March 2008

    Tough on dirty laundry, tough on the cause of dirty laundry.

    It could, of course, just disappear like the UK investigation into defence kick-backs for Saudis. Under presuure from BOTH governments! 🙄

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