February 26, 2018 / 3:48 PM / in 24 days

Italy prosecutor seeks jail sentences for Eni manager, ex-CEO in Algeria case

MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian prosecutor has asked for jail sentences for a top manager and a former chief executive of oil and gas group Eni (ENI.MI) who are standing trial in an Algerian corruption case.

FILE PHOTO - Paolo Scaroni, chief executive officer of Italian energy company ENI, speaks with Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh (not pictured) in Tunis April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Milan prosecutor Isidoro Palma asked on Monday for Eni’s Chief Upstream Officer Antonio Vella and former CEO Paolo Scaroni to be given sentences of five years and four months and six years and four months, respectively, in the case which is still ongoing.

Under Italy’s legal process, prosecutors can ask for a jail sentence in a case even though no verdict has been delivered. But a judge does not have to act on a prosecutor’s request in terms of sentencing.

Both Vella and Scaroni have previously denied any wrongdoing.

Lawyers for Vella, who was head of Eni’s North Africa business at the time, and for Scaroni were not immediately available to comment on Monday.

The case covers the period 2007 to 2010.

An Eni spokesman reiterated the company’s previous denial of any wrongdoing, adding it would be able to present its position in defence hearings in coming weeks.

Palma also asked for Eni and oil service group Saipem (SPMI.MI) to be fined 900,000 euros ($1.1 million) each.

    Jail sentences were also requested for some former Saipem executives.

    The long-running case revolves around allegations that Saipem paid intermediaries around 197 million euros to bag contracts worth 8 billion euros with Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach.

    Prosecutors claim the payment also allowed Eni to get a green light from Algeria’s Energy Ministry to buy Canadian oil and gas company First Calgary Petroleums.

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

    ($1 = 0.8122 euros)

    Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro, writing by Stephen Jewkes. Editing by Jane Merriman

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