A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Algeria issues arrest warrant for former Oil Minister for bribery

Chakib khelil14 August 2013, News Wires – Algeria’s former oil minister Chakib Khelil is willing to return to the North African oil powerhouse to face trial over an alleged bribery scandal, according to reports.

It emerged this week that Algeria had issued international arrest warrants for Khelil and eight others in conjunction with alleged bribes between state oil company Sonatrach and Eni unit Saipem that granted the Italian company billions of dollars worth of gas contracts.

The arrest warrants were reportedly two weeks old and included warrants for his wife and two of his sons.

On Wednesday, however, Khelil told Algerian newspaper El Bilad that he was currently in the US but was happy to return to the country if needed for a trial.

“I am willing to travel to Algeria at any time … but only on one condition: that the trial be conducted in accordance with proper legal procedures,” a translation of the report, published in Arabic, read.

Khelil also alleged that he had not been notified of the arrest warrants other than through the media.

“I am at my home in the US and live normally and do not have any health problems,” he said.

Algeria began scrutinising a deal between Sonatrach and Saipem as early as February 2010.

Earlier this month a former Sapiem manager at the centre of the current bribery probe was arrested. Pietro Varone, the former head of Saipem’s engineering division, was arrested on 28 July.

Saipem is 43% owned by state-controlled Eni, Italy’s largest listed company and the leading foreign energy operator in Algeria.

The Algerian contracts at the centre of the probe had not been picked up by the audit committees and internal control systems of either Eni or Saipem.


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