January 16, 2014 / 8:26 AM / 4 years ago

Former CEO of Norway's Yara indicted on corruption charges

* Thorleif Enger denies the charges - lawyer

* More individuals to be charged - lawyer

OSLO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The former chief executive of Norway's Yara International, Thorleif Enger, has been indicted on corruption charges after a cross-border bribery investigation by the police's economic crime unit, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Yara, one of the world's biggest fertiliser companies, was fined 295 million crowns ($48.5 million) on Wednesday for paying or agreeing to pay $12 million in bribes between 2004 and 2009.

Police said bribes were paid to senior government officials in India and Libya, including an oil minister of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as well as to suppliers in Russia.

Yara, which acknowledged its guilt and accepted the fine, initiated the investigation in 2011 after it uncovered "unacceptable payments" in Libya, India and by a Swiss subsidiary.

"I can confirm he has been charged," Enger's lawyer, Ellen Holager Andenaes, told Reuters. "He categorically denies having committed any crime."

The charge can carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison. More people are expected to be charged in the case, she said.

Enger was chief executive of Yara from 1999 to 2008.

"Enger is not the only one being charged," said Andenaes. She declined to say who the other individuals were.

Norway's economic crime unit was not immediately available for comment.

Police in 2012 charged Enger, as well as former chief financial officer Hallgeir Storvik and former upstream chief Tor Holba. Neither Storvik nor Holba, both of whom deny any wrongdoing, have been indicted.

The case has attracted strong criticism from some Yara shareholders.

"What has been revealed in this case is unacceptable," said Olaug Svarva, managing director of Folketrygdfondet, a state-owned fund that is Yara's second-largest shareholder behind the Norwegian government.

"For us it is crucial that the company takes all necessary steps to prevent that something like this from happening again," she said in a statement.

The fund has asked for a meeting with Yara management to review the case. (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen; Writing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by David Goodman)

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