UK bribery trial collapses in blow to anti-fraud agency

One of Britain’s biggest corruption trials in years came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) called off the prosecution of businessman Victor Dahdaleh in a further setback for its already tarnished reputation. The SFO had accused Dahdaleh of paying some $67 million in bribes to former managers of Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) (ALBH.BH) the world’s fourth-biggest aluminum smelter, between 1998 and 2006 in return for a cut of contracts worth over $3 billion. But the SFO’s lead counsel told a London court there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction after a key witness changed his evidence and two U.S. lawyers who had played a crucial role in the case refused to testify in court. The sudden collapse of Dahdaleh’s trial, which began on November 5 and had been expected to run into 2014, followed costly blunders by the SFO in other high-profile cases that had piled pressure on the agency to deliver notable convictions.


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