Millennium Post

Ex- Norway fertiliser executives face graft

Four former top executives of Norwegian fertiliser giant Yara International appeared Monday before a court in Norway charged with "aggravated bribery" in Libya and India.

The four ex-Yara bosses -- two Norwegians, including former CEO Thorleif Enger, a Frenchman and a US citizen -- pleaded not guilty before Oslo district court.

The charges against them date back to between 2004 and 2009 and have already resulted in the partly state-owned Yara paying a fine of 295 million kronor (USD 38.5 million) in January 2014, a record for Norway.

The charges are related to the alleged payment of at least USD 5 million in bribes to the son of Libya's ex-oil minister serving under dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Shukri Ghanem, in connection with the construction of a fertiliser plant in Libya together with the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).

Ghanem was found dead in April 2012 in the Danube river in Vienna, where he was in exile after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. An investigation concluded that the 69-year-old Libyan had suffered a heart attack.

After discovering this case of alleged corruption, Yara's new management in 2011 informed the economic crimes unit of the Norwegian police, which opened an investigation.

It has uncovered other "unacceptable payments" in India, where the fertiliser manufacturer allegedly had agreed to pay the son of a senior official USD 3 million in connection with a joint venture that never materialised.


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