Two executives at Norwegian fertiliser manufacturer Yara have stepped down following allegations of corruption.
The Nowegian economic and environmental crime unit, Økokrim, arrested head of upstream Tor Holba and Hallgeir Storvik, chief financial officer and head of strategy, on Friday 18 May.
The men are suspected of being accomplices to gross corruption relating to an ongoing investigation at Yara, senior public prosecutor Marianne Djupesland told Farmers Weekly.
President and CEO of Yara International ASA Jørgen Ole Haslestad said he was surprised by the development.
“However, Yara has had a close co-operation with Økokrim throughout the process, and will continue this in this new phase. It is important for us to see this process through to its conclusion, and we will now await Økokrim’s further investigation.”
The investigation began in April 2011 after Yara approached police with information about criminal offences which may have occurred before the company established Libya-based ammonia and urea business Lifeco.
The same year, allegations surfaced that US$1m (£632,000) had been paid to a third party in India during negotiations to establish a joint venture in the country in 2006-2007.
In March 2012, the investigation uncovered “unacceptable payments” from Yara’s Swiss joint venture.
Mr Holba and Mr Storvik stepped down from their positions at their own request and will continue to work for the company, said a Yara statement.