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Saipem CEO out in corruption probe

Italian oil and gas drilling contractor Saipem SpA confirmed that it is under investigation for corruption by Italian authorities for alleged payments in Algeria.

Saipem’s board said Wednesday the payments allegedly relate to conduct that occurred before 2009.

The Algerian state-owned oil company is called Sonatrach.

Saipem CEO Pietro Franco Tali resigned ‘to assist Saipem in responding to the investigation.’

Italian oil giant ENI owns 43 percent of Saipem.

Although CEO Tali ‘is in no manner a subject of the prosecutor’s investigation, he felt that his resignation would better enable the company to respond to the prosector’s inquiry,’ Saipem said Wednesday.

The COO of Saipem’s engineering and construction unit, Pietro Varone, was suspended after being named as a suspect by investigators from the Milan prosecutor’s office.

‘Another officer of the company has also been suspended in connection with the same investigation,’ the company said in a statement.

ENI is also the parent company of Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V..

In 2010, they paid $365 million to resolve FCPA-related charges for Snamprogetti’s role in the TSKJ-Nigeria joint venture.

In that case, Netherlands-based Snamprogetti was charged by the DOJ in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting violations of the FCPA. And Snamprogetti and ENI were also jointly charged in a civil complaint by the SEC with violating the anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.

Saipem said it is cooperating in the Italian investigation.

The board of directors’ December 5 statement is here.

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