World News

Former Yara executives sentenced to prison in corruption case

OSLO (Reuters) - A Norwegian court sentenced four former top executives at Yara, the world’s biggest nitrate fertilizer maker, to prison on Tuesday for paying bribes in Libya and India, in one of Norway’s biggest corruption scandals.

Prosecutors had accused the men of paying around $8 million in bribes to officials in India and Libya - including to the family of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s oil minister and the family of a financial adviser in India’s Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers - for the right to establish joint ventures.

Former CEO Thorleif Enger got the longest sentence of three years. His lawyer said he would appeal the sentence.

Former chief legal officer Kendrick Wallace was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in prison, while former head of upstream activities Tor Holba and former deputy CEO Daniel Clauw were both given two-year jail terms years, court documents showed.

Clauw was sentenced for gross corruption in India but was acquitted of charges over bribes in Libya.

Holba was the only one of the four charged solely for paying bribes in India.

Holba and Clauw will appeal their sentences, their lawyers said. A representative for Wallace could not immediately be reached for a comment.

Oslo-based Yara acknowledged last year that it had paid the bribes and agreed to pay a 295 million Norwegian crowns ($35.91 million) fine.

The case started in 2011 when Yara contacted Norwegian authorities, saying it had uncovered cases of corruption dating to prior to 2008. The men were charged with gross corruption, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, additional reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, editing by Alister Doyle and Susan Fenton