Former Lyondell US employee pleads guilty in $82m kickback scheme

11 March 2011 20:16  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--A former LyondellBasell employee has pleaded guilty to multiple fraud and money laundering charges in a multimillion dollar kickback scheme, a United States Attorney said on Friday.

Attorney Jose Angel Moreno said from January 2007 through January 2010, former LyondellBasell employee Jonathan Barnes agreed to have the company’s Houston refinery pay about $82m (€60m) above market prices for shipping in exchange for millions of dollars in kickbacks.

Two of Barnes’ co-defendants allegedly controlled two of the bank accounts receiving the inflated payments and paid Barnes about $20m in kickbacks, Moreno said.

Barnes, 55, pleaded guilty to four felony charges brought by the US Attorney’s Office in Houston at a hearing before a US district judge on Friday, Moreno said.

The charges were conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in international money laundering in order to conceal the source and nature of kickbacks sent from Swiss bank accounts to the US, making a false statement in a passport application and bulk cash smuggling, Moreno said.

Each conspiracy charge carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison, he said.

All of the offences also carry a fine of up to $250,000, except for the money laundering offence which carries a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater, he said.

Barnes, who has been in custody since November last year, is due to be sentenced on 12 June, Moreno said.

LyondellBasell spokesman David Harpole said his company commended the US Attorney’s Office in Houston for their work. LyondellBasell had referred the case to the office in summer 2010 after an internal investigation, he added.

($1 = €0.73)

For more on LyondellBasell and other producers visit ICIS company intelligence

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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