Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, former Chief Executive Officer CEO of Algeria’s state-owned oil and gas group Sonatrach has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption in connection with the purchase of a refinery in Italy, a defense lawyer said.
Mr. Ould Kaddour “was sentenced to 15 years in prison,” said Miloud Brahimi, a defense lawyer said.
Also, Ahmed Mazighi, the former assistant to Mr. Ould Kaddour who had piloted the project to buy the refinery, was sentenced to seven years in prison.
A former executive of the oil group was sentenced to three years in prison while another was released by the Algiers court, according to the lawyer.
As gathered by Afrireporters, they were prosecuted in a corruption case related to the purchase by Sonatrach in 2018 of the Augusta refinery and various infrastructure in southern Italy from Esso Italy, a subsidiary of American ExxonMobil.
The amount of the transfer had not been specified but according to the Algerian media, the oil group has paid $ 720 million, an amount considered excessive for an old refinery that began production in 1950.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the transaction cost Sonatrach a total of 2.1 billion dollars, as the company also paid 916 million dollars to acquire the oil stored in the refinery and significant additional sums for renovation work.
The prosecution had requested 18 years in prison against Mr. Ould Kaddour and ten years against Mr. Mazighi, including for “squandering public funds, abuse of office and conflict of interest”.
Mr. Ould Kaddour, a close associate of the late deposed president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was extradited to Algeria in August 2021 after being arrested in the United Arab Emirates under an international arrest warrant issued by the Algerian judiciary.
Appointed head of Sonatrach in March 2017, Mr. Ould Kaddour was dismissed three weeks after the fall of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in early April 2019, pushed to resign by an unprecedented popular protest movement, the Hirak, after 20 years in power.
Mr. Ould Kaddour had led in the past the oil engineering company Brown and Root Condor (BRC), a subsidiary of Sonatrach, and the U.S. oil services company Halliburton.
BRC was dissolved in 2007 after suspicions of corruption in contracts obtained in violation of regulations.