A former head of oil and gas contractor Saipem’s engineering division has been arrested in Italy in connection with a bribery investigation relating to Algerian gas contracts.
Pietro Varone resigned in December last year together with Saipem CEO Pietro Franco Tali and Alessandro Bernini, chief financial officer at parent company ENI. The senior executives stepped down after the Prosecutor for Milan notified Saipem that it was investigating corruption in Algeria connected to gas contracts.
Nearly €200 million in bribes is alleged to have been paid to officials in Algeria via a company called Pearl Partners, according to reports. Eni and Saipem have denied any wrongdoing.
The news comes after Italian market securities regulator Consob started separate procedures to sanction Saipem after uncovering irregularities in its 2012 accounts. Saipem revised its 2013 earnings guidance and its outlook for 2013 at the start of this year, but Consob said it had found evidence of a number of violations including a delay in announcing January’s profit warning to the market.
Consob is due to issue a decision on imposing sanctions on the company within the next year.