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Albemarle pays $218M to settle allegations of foreign bribery

Albemarle Corp.'s headquarters is in the SouthPark area of Charlotte.
Albemarle Corp.
Albemarle Corp.'s headquarters is in the SouthPark area of Charlotte.

Charlotte-based Albemarle Corp. has agreed to pay $218 million to settle federal allegations that the company bribed government officials in several countries.

The agreement announced Friday resolves investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Albemarle acknowledged that employees or contractors paid bribes between 2009 and 2017 to win or retain business with state-owned oil refineries in Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

Albemarle voluntarily disclosed the misconduct, which federal officials called "a step in the right direction."

Albemarle said in a statement that it overhauled its compliance program when the incidents were discovered and that the people involved no longer work for the company.

"The actions taken by a limited number of former employees and third-party sales representatives happened years ago and do not represent the nearly 8,000 Albemarle employees who abide by our comprehensive Code of Conduct every day. Those responsible for these past actions were held to account and separated years ago,” company officials said in a statement.

Albemarle mines and manufactures specialty chemicals, including catalysts for the refining industry and lithium for electric vehicle batteries.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.