Algeria confident about stolen energy money

Aug. 13, 2013 at 8:46 AM

ALGIERS, Algeria, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Algeria said Tuesday it would be able to retrieve funds allegedly caught up in a bribery scandal involving former Energy Minister Chakib Khellil.

Algeria announced through its official Algeria Press Service it issued an international arrest warrant for the former minister, his wife, two of his sons and five others in a case dubbed Sonatrach 2. The case involves alleged bribes between state-owned energy company Sonatrach and Italian energy company Eni.

"The announcement of the international arrest warrant against Chakib Khelil actually comes through a thorough judicial process to disentangle the reports of bribes in connection with oil and gas contracts in Algeria, just after the investigation into another case, that of the so-called Sonatrach 1," it reported Monday.

Khelil was also head of Algerian energy company Sonatrach. APS estimated the bribes at more than $200 million. The press service said Tuesday the government was "optimistic" it would be able to retrieve the funds.

Khelil was in charge of the Algerian energy ministry from 1999 to 2010. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he would not ignore the scandal. He said he trusts the national justice system would determine responsibility in the case.

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