Albemarle Corp. to Pay SEC More Than $103 Million to Settle FCPA Violations
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Charlotte-based Albemarle Corporation, a global specialty chemicals company, agreed to pay more than $103.6 million to settle the SEC’s charges that it violated the anti-bribery, recordkeeping, and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
According to the SEC’s Order, despite significant red flags, Albemarle used agents from at least 2009 through 2017 that paid bribes to obtain sales of refinery catalysts to public-sector oil refineries in Vietnam, India, and Indonesia and to private-sector oil refineries in India. In addition, the Order finds that Albemarle violated the FCPA’s recordkeeping requirements and failed to devise and maintain a sufficient system of internal accounting controls to provide reasonable assurances that payments made to agents in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China, and the United Arab Emirates were for legitimate services.
“Despite repeated and glaring bribery-related red flags, Albemarle failed for many years to implement sufficient internal accounting controls relevant to the use of agents by its global refining solutions business to make sales to state-owned customers around the world,” said Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit. “This failure set the stage for wide-ranging misconduct.”
Albemarle consented to the SEC’s Order finding that it violated the anti-bribery, recordkeeping, and internal accounting controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Albemarle has agreed to cease and desist from committing or causing any future violations of these provisions and to pay disgorgement of more than $81.8 million plus prejudgment interest of more than $21.7 million, totaling over $103.6 million.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today it has entered into a non-prosecution agreement in which Albemarle agreed to pay a $99 million criminal fine and to a forfeiture of approximately $98 million, of which $81.8 million will be satisfied by the company’s payment of disgorgement pursuant to the SEC Order.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Christine Neal, M. Shahriar Masud, and Brittany Prelogar of the SEC’s FCPA Unit, with assistance from Fernando Campoamor. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, the IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Anti Corruption Centre of the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigations Service, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Indonesia Financial Services Authority.