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Alcoa: Shareholder's Alba lawsuit 'lacks merit'

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Alcoa Inc. says a South Carolina shareholder's lawsuit claiming the company didn't properly investigate allegations of a multibillion dollar bribery scheme "lacks merit."

A Middle Eastern firm, Aluminum Bahrain BSC, contends companies affiliated with Alcoa Inc. paid $9.5 million in bribes plus millions more in commissions so the Bahrain-controlled firm known as Alba would overpay $420 million for raw materials from 1997 to 2009. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a related criminal investigation centering on Alcoa affiliates controlled by billionaire businessman Victor Dahdaleh, who has been charged by British authorities.

Tuesday's lawsuit by shareholder Catherine Rubery seeks to make Alcoa's board responsible for any damages Alcoa may pay to Alba and court-ordered changes to make the board more accountable to shareholders.

Alcoa says "the lawsuit lacks merit and we intend to defend it vigorously."