FCPA: Albemarle reports investigation resolution and fine to DOJ and SEC

Lithium producer Albemarle reaches a settlement in principle to resolve potential violations of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Lithium producer Albemarle Corp. reached an agreement in principle with US authorities to pay a $218.5m fine to resolve an investigation into potential improper payments by third-party sales representatives, the Charlotte, NC-based company said.

The agreement, which has yet to be finalized, would resolve possible violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which Albemarle voluntarily disclosed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018.

It released some brief details of the impending settlement in a quarterly earnings report to investors last Wednesday, which was first reported by Global Investigations Review, a legal trade publication.

Improper payments

In Albemarle’s earnings report, the company said it had also reported the potential improper payments to Dutch authorities, who declined to bring charges against the company.

The company has not disclosed – nor have the DOJ or SEC – the countries where the potential bribery payments took place.

The earnings report said the bribery at issue in its agreement with the federal agencies involved Ketjen, its wholly owned subsidiary that crafts advanced catalyst solutions for the petrochemical, refining, and specialty chemicals industries.

Albemarle said that, under the agreement, the company would enter into a non-prosecution agreement with US prosecutors and an administrative settlement with the SEC. The company won’t be required to retain an independent monitor, but it will need to make periodic reports to the regulator about its compliance with the FCPA, Albemarle said.