Yara investigation finds unacceptable payments at Swiss JV

23 March 2012 13:06  [Source: ICIS news]

Yara investigates payments at Swiss JVLONDON (ICIS)--Yara International has uncovered unacceptable payments from a former joint venture in Switzerland through an investigation of possible corruption, the Norwegian fertilizer producer said on Friday.

The group was unable to go into detail about the payments, only that they were "unacceptable to Yara's ethical standards and could potentially relate to corruption". 

Yara said it did not know when the payments were made but confirmed they are connected to Swiss-based fertilizer company Balderton, which Yara now owns. The company acquired a 49% stake in Balderton in 2006 but became sole owner of the company after buying the remaining shares in 2010.

In addition to Balderton, Yara in 2011 looked into a possible breach of ethical guidelines related to its interest in Libyan Norwegian Fertilizer Company (Lifeco), as part of a larger investigation looking at potential integrity issues at other joint ventures.

“In parallel with the implementation of the external investigation in April last year, [the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime] Okokrim was informed that possible offences could have taken place prior to October 2008 in connection with the establishment and follow-up of Yara's ownership in Lifeco,” the company said.

"We will get to the bottom of this. Such breaches of Yara standards are unacceptable, but I am satisfied that Yara initiated the external investigation, enabling us to uncover these new incidents,” said Yara CEO Jorgen Ole Haslestad.

“At the same time, I am naturally both upset and disappointed that we have made additional findings," he added.

Yara said further investigations are now taking place to clarify how such payments had been carried out and authorised.

In addition to the recent findings and the Libyan joint venture, Okokrim began investigating Yara in May 2011 over a $1m (€760,000) payment that it made in connection with a fertilizer initiative in India.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Leigh Stringer
+44 208 652 3214

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