|The U.S. Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into whether aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. participated in bribery in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.
In documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, federal prosecutors asked a judge to halt a federal civil lawsuit that accused Pittsburgh-based Alcoa of bribing officials through overseas shell companies to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in overpayments.
"The United States has a direct and substantial interest in this case, as the subject matter giving rise to this case is also the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation," prosecutors in the Justice Department's fraud section said in court filings.
Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C., also known as Alba, in which the Bahrain government holds a 77 percent stake, is seeking more than $1 billion in damages from Alcoa and other affiliated defendants, according to a federal lawsuit filed last month.
"The Alba complaint alleges numerous facts which, if true, could be relevant to the government's criminal investigation and a potential criminal trial," prosecutors said in court filings.