The world’s lagest fertilizer producer, Yara International, is charged with violation of the Norwegian penal code paragraph 276a, cf paragraph 276b, according to a market statement. The Norwegian company is accused of paying USD millions US in bribe to Libyan and Indian officials in the period between 2006 and 2008. Stocks drop 4% at Oslo Stock Exchange.
“Regardless of what Økokrim conclude, these charges are very serious for Yara.”
Jørgen Ole Haslestad
The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (“Økokrim”) has launched charges against Yara International ASA.
On 8 April Yara initiated an external investigation and at the same time
notified Økokrim of the possibility that criminal offenses may have occurred before October 2008, in connection with the negotiations preceding the company’s investment in Libya.
In connection with the ongoing investigation process, a Yara employee has brought forward information relating to a separate matter, and Yara has approached Økokrim with this information.
The information relates to a project in India during the period 2006-2007.
The project aimed to establish a joint venture for the production and sale of fertilizer, but was not realized.
An initial investigation has uncovered a payment of USD 1 million to a third-party.
Based on this information Økokrim has launched an investigation.
“Regardless of what Økokrim conclude, these charges are very serious for Yara. We are cooperating with Økokrim and await the results of the investigation. I am satisfied that the investigation we have initiated has brought this matter to the surface, but disappointed that the information did not come at an earlier stage if it emerges that Yara has committed an offense,” Jørgen Ole Haslestad, President and CEO of Yara International ASA writes in the statement.
International has a global workforce of 7.300 employees.
District Attorney Marianne Djupesland with The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime says, according to the website DN.no, that they on Wednesday executed a search warrant against the company, and then decided to file official charges against the company.
“The company has approached the Norwegian authorities, and that we see as praiseworthy. The management wants to cooperate,” she says.
The investigation will be of high priority, according to the District Attorney.
“We’re talking about a large international company, with headquartered in Norway and the Norwegian state as a large shareholder. This is a prioritized investigate for us,” Ms. Djupesland says.
It is the company Yara that is charged, no individuals. That means that a fine is the only possible punishment.
“It’s hard to say how this might end. But corruption has a serious penalties for individuals of up to ten years, that says something about the seriousness of a case like this,” the District Attorney points out.
She will not comment on whether it is appropriate to target individuals as well.
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