The former Algerian Oil Minister, Chakib Khelil, has denied any wrongdoing in connection with alleged bribery charges relating to the award of contracts during his tenure by state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach, after the Algerian general prosecutor issued an international warrant for his arrest. This is the latest episode in a corruption scandal that came to light in 2010 and has all but paralyzed decision-making within the vital sector.
Dr Khelil, who served as Algeria’s oil minister for over a decade starting in 1999 and twice as OPEC president, was removed from his post in May 2010 and left Algeria under a cloud this February, just as the second tranche of the investigation known as Sonatrach 2 was launched. He was not implicated in Sonatrach 1, the first phase of the probe that netted the former CEO of Sonatrach and other senior officials at home and the senior echelons of oil services giant Saipem in Italy over allegations that the Eni subsidiary had paid close to €200mn ($266mn) to middlemen to secure seven contracts in Algeria. (CONTINUED - 1757 WORDS)