* LyondellBasell says internal inquiry under way
* Says may have violated Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
* Company cooperating with DOJ
NEW YORK, April 7 LyondellBasell [ACCEIN.UL],
the bankrupt chemical company built through a takeover by
financier Len Blavatnik's Access Industries, has identified
corporate activities in Kazakhstan that may break U.S.
anti-corruption laws, according to court documents.
LyondellBasell disclosed in a March court filing that it
had contacted the U.S. Department of Justice about activities
it said may violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It
also said it is cooperating with the department.
The act prohibits payment of bribes to foreign officials to
obtain or keep business.
U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney
declined to comment on whether the department is
LyondellBasell spokesman David Harpole likewise declined to
comment on whether the U.S. government has opened its own
investigation following Lyondell's disclosure of its own
"I cannot discuss areas of the investigation or status of
the investigation," Harpole said.
Once a company discloses possible violations of the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act to the Justice Department, the DOJ will
typically take a look although it may conclude that it is not
worth pursuing, according to a lawyer who specializes in FCPA
"It's quite possible the Justice Department will decide
there's not a lot there, although if a company has made a
decision to voluntarily disclose, there's probably something,"
said Stevan Bunnell, an FCPA lawyer with O'Melveny & Myers in
Washington, speaking generally about self-disclosures.
In 2006, LyondellBasell announced a project in Kazakhstan
for an integrated chemical plant that was later delayed.
LyondellBasell's Harpole said that in February the company
informed the partners in the project that it would not be going
forward because the project did not fit in with its business
LyondellBasell, which plans to emerge from bankruptcy this
year, said that it had hired outside counsel to investigate the
(Additional reporting by Dan Margolies in Washington D.C.)