The much-publicized corruption affair involving the national hydrocarbons company Sonatrachand engineering firm Saipem, a subsidiary of Italy’s energy group “ENI”, has witnessed a new upturn with revelations made of late by one of Saipem’s executive managers namely Petro Faroni who is still in detention in connection with this widespread corruption scandal.
According to left-wing Italian newspaper “La Republica” the suspect Petro Faroni has told the Italian examining magistrate in charge of the file thatChakibKhelil’s close associate met twice in Milan and Paris with ENI’s CEO Paolo Sacaroni with a view to clinching an energy contract for the MenzelLedjmat gas field “MLE” east of HassiMessaoud in Southern Algeria via the intervention of ChakibKhelil, who was at that time Algeria’s energy and mines minister.
He also revealed that ChakibKhelilhimself had received 41 million Euros,(the equivalent of about 500 billion centimes in Algerian Dinars) as a bribe for facilitating the snatching by the Italian energy firm of this much- lucrative gas contract.
ChakibKhelil who is the target of an international arrest warrant issued against him earlier this year by the Algerian and Italian justice, is now living abroad and has so far not been arrested as expected by Interpol for still murky reasons.
The unprecedented international warrant for the arrest of former energy and mines minister ChakibKhelil and 19 other individuals, including members of his family, brings the Algerian judiciary into line with aggressive corruption investigations in Italy and elsewhere. It also removes the suspicion that those involved might still enjoy some degree of domestic political protection.
Warrants issued by prosecutors in Milan in late July had already provided strong indications that Khelil could be directly implicated in a major corruption investigation concerning the Italian engineering company Saipem, state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach and the electricity and gas utility Sonelgaz. But, until the recent announcement, it appeared that these alleged serious abuses, committed in Algeria, were being more vigorously pursued overseas.
Algeria’s new anti-corruption body has received a boost with news that agents from the defense and interior ministries’ judicial police forces will be seconded to the Office Central de Répression de la Corruption (OCRC), which is attached to the Ministry of Finance. The OCRC was created by presidential decree in 2011, but only started to operate in March this year.
The decision to empower this new body comes three years after the first allegations of corruption in the energy sector led to the dismissal of Sonatrach’s entire senior management and the forced resignation of energy and mines minister ChakibKhelil. However, new revelations about the bribery scandal implicating Khelil and his suspected henchmen continue to emerge now and then.
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