Businessmen used bribes to earn toxic chemical sales, court told
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Four businessmen channelled multi-million-pound bribes to foreign officials to induce them to buy huge quantities of a toxic chemical outlawed in the west, a court heard yesterday.
A sentencing hearing of the men was told the bribes were used to sell a fuel additive which was known to damage children's brains, reducing their IQs and increasing mental illness.
Andrew Mitchell, QC for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), told the court that the executives had "deliberately" organised the bribes to prolong the sales of the leaded petrol, which was used in cars and aircraft. The chemical, known as tetra ethyl lead (TEL), is slowly being banned around the world.
Dennis Kerrison, the chief executive of the chemical multinational Innospec between 1996 and 2005, and Miltos Papachristos, 51, the firm's former senior sales director for Asia-Pacific, were found guilty last month of conspiring to bribe Indonesian officials. Paul Jennings, Kerrison's successor until 2009, and the firm's former sales and marketing director, David Turner, earlier pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe officials in Indonesia and Iraq.
Mitchell told Southwark crown court in London that the corruption delayed plans by the Indonesian authorities to phase out the sales of the chemical.
The conspiracy, which included bribes to sabotage trials of a safer alternative, was exposed by the SFO and other anti corruption agencies during a seven-year international investigation.
By 2000, the toxic chemical was being sold in only a handful of countries - Iraq, Iran, South Africa, Venezuela and Indonesia. Innospec was one of the last manufacturers, producing thousands of tonnes of the chemical from its factory in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
Its executives paid bribes - of up to $17m - to influential Indonesian officials, the court was told, to ensure "further orders would be placed and the use of TEL prolonged."
(c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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