February 12, 2015 / 3:47 PM / 5 years ago

REFILE-Prosecutors request trial for Eni and Saipem on Algeria corruption

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MILAN, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors have asked for oil major Eni and its subsidiary Saipem to be put on trial on charges Saipem paid bribes to win contracts in Algeria, a judicial source said on Thursday.

Investigations into allegations that the oil service company paid intermediaries 197 million euros ($224 million) to bag contracts worth 8 billion euros with Algerian state-owned energy group Sonatrach were completed in January.

Under Italian law, those potentially facing trial are notified only when a judge sets a date for a hearing to decide whether to bring the case to court or not.

Besides Eni and Saipem, the prosecutors have also asked for eight individuals to be sent to trial, including former Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni, the source said.

Eni and Saipem, which have previously denied any wrongdoing, did not comment.

A spokesman for Scaroni said the one-time Eni head had absolutely nothing to do with the accusations.

In Italian law, companies are responsible for the actions of their managers and can be fined if found guilty.

Audits previously carried out by Eni and its 43 percent owned subsidiary Saipem both found no evidence of illegal conduct.

Eni, which has been operating in Algeria since 1981, has extensive interests in the gas-rich country and holds a series of gas exploration and development licenses.

Algeria is one of Italy’s main gas suppliers and provides an alternative source to Russian gas. ($1 = 0.8788 euros) (Reporting Emilio Parodi, additional reporting and writing by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Keith Weir)

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