LyondellBasell may face a U.S. bribery probe after telling prosecutors about a potentially improper payment linked to a project in Kazakhstan, according to four people with knowledge of the matter as reported in Bloomberg. The company’s review involves a petrochemical complex in western Kazakhstan where LyondellBasell was a partner until earlier this year. A LyondellBasell payment of US$7 mln made about two years ago to an individual affiliated with a Kazakh company, SAT & Co., is at the center of the internal investigation. The payment may not have followed LyondellBasell’s required approval process.
LyondellBasell told the Justice Department it uncovered conduct that raised “compliance issues” under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to a March 30 court filing in Manhattan. The FCPA makes it a crime for companies with US operations to bribe foreign officials. A review of international holdings by a management team installed after the bankruptcy triggered the disclosure. While the probe would be unlikely to affect LyondellBasell’s emergence from bankruptcy, any FCPA investigation could result in fines and indictments.