28 Mar 2010

Chemical company fined for Indonesia bribes

5:58 pm on 28 March 2010

The British arm of an American chemical company has been fined $US12.7m for bribing government officials in Indonesia.

Innospec paid bribes of more than $US8.5m to win contracts and to prevent one of its products, a fuel additive containing lead, being banned.

Tetraethyl lead fuel additives were phased out in the US and Europe from the 1970s to the 1990s, because of health and environmental concerns, but are still used in piston engine aircraft.

The company called it a "deeply regrettable" chapter in its history and said it had changed procedures to try and ensure it didn't happen again.

Judge Lord Justice Thomas at Southwark Crown Court in London said Innospec's corruption was systematic and large-scale.

The court's decision followed a controversial transatlantic plea bargain, which earmarked $US40.2m as being available for fines and confiscation, about two-thirds of which is expected to go to US authorities, the BBC reports.

Judge Lord Justice Thomas deal as being beyond the remit of the UK's Serious Fraud Office and said that in the future, prosecuting authorities should not make such deals.

He said the fine was "wholly inadequate", but he did not want to make the company insolvent.