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Mossack Fonseca Heavily Connected To Saipem Bribery Investigation In Algeria

Mossack Fonseca created 12 out of the 17 companies that are being investigated in Italy for the alleged bribes a middleman had paid to help Italian oil and gas services group Saipem get deals in Algeria, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported on Monday in a fresh Panama Papers series investigation.

Franco-Algerian businessman Farid Bedjaoui reportedly met with Algerian and Saipem officials to arrange a US$275 million pay off in order to secure contracts worth more than US$10-billion for the Italian company to build pipelines from the Algerian desert to the Mediterranean.

Prosecutors in both Italy and Algeria continue their investigation into the alleged bribery. Yesterday an investigative effort at the ICIJ revealed that 12 out of the 17 firms which the Italian prosecutors had listed as belonging to Bedjaoui were created by Mossack Fonseca.

Saipem, which has always claimed to cooperate fully with authorities, saw an Algerian court fine one of its subsidiaries in February 2016 in another corruption case linked to equipment supplies for Algerian company Sonatrach. Back then Saipem said it would appeal the ruling, denying wrongdoing.

Algeria’s troubles are not the only legal contentions in which Saipem has been involved in the past few years. In July 2015, prosecutors in Brazil said alleged bribes were paid on behalf of Saipem to secure contracts with scandal-ridden Petrobras, but they fell short of naming the Italian company as a defendant. In August 2015, Saipem said it was notified of impeding investigation by Italian prosecutors concerning a contract which Petrobas had awarded to Saipem’s French and Brazilian subsidiaries in 2011. The Italian group said it had not received notification regarding the probe from judicial authorities in Brazil.

Earlier this year, Saipem filed a 759-million-euro claim against Gazprom after Russia had scrapped the South Stream project for which the Italian group had won orders to deliver pipes worth billions of euros.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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