Billionaire businessman bailed in Bahrain bribe case

AP, Monday 31 Oct 2011

British-Canadian tycoon is charged with corruption for his role in deals brokered between a US firm and a Bahrain-owned metals giant

A billionaire businessman accused of bribing officials in Bahrain, including a prominent member of the country's royal family, was granted bail Monday by a British court in exchange for a 10 million pounds (US$16 million) security bond.

Victor Dahdaleh, 68, who is British and Canadian, is charged with corruption offenses related to contracts between Bahrain's state-owned aluminum manufacturer and the U.S.-based Alcoa Inc.

Prosecutors alleged that the offense, linked to payments for the shipments of the raw material alumina to Bahrain from Australia, took place between 2001 and 2005.

District Judge Quentin Purdy told Dahdaleh he would be granted bail until an appearance at London's Southwark Crown Court on 13 January.

He ordered Dahdaleh to post 10 million pounds in security and said he must observe a 10pm to 6am curfew at his central London home.

Friends and relatives of the billionaire, including senior executives from Credit Suisse and oil giant BP, also agreed to offer 1.42 million pounds (US$2.3 million) in sureties.

Dahdaleh is the chairman and owner of metals and chemicals firm Dadco and a trustee of the Clinton Foundation. He also has had close ties to Britain's Labour Party.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office said he is alleged to have offered corrupt payments to Sheik Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa, son-in-law of Bahrain's prime minister.

The office confirmed that an investigation begun in 2009 had involved the U.S. Department of Justice and authorities in Switzerland.

Dahdaleh has not entered a plea, but in a statement issued through his lawyers denied any wrongdoing and promised to "vigorously contest" the allegations.

The businessman has surrendered his British and Canadian passports, and Purdy ordered him not to attempt to leave Britain before his next court appearance.

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