Former Algerian Energy Minister sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison

Algeria (AFP) – 02/14/2022. 19:25

Algeria.. Chakib Khelil held the position of Minister of Energy for 10 years

  • The court fined him two million Algerian dinars (about 12,500 euros).
  • It is likely that Khalil is in the United States as he holds American citizenship.

The court of Sidi M’hamed issued in AlgeriaOn Monday, the former Minister of Energy was sentenced in absentia Shakib Khalil 20 years after being convicted on corruption charges during his tenure in this position.

The court supported the Public Prosecution’s requests against Khalil during the trial that took place two weeks ago, to impose a sentence of “20 years in prison with the implementation of the international arrest warrant issued in September 2019”.

The court also fined Khelil, who took over the Ministry of Energy under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, two million Algerian dinars (about 12,500 euros).

According to the Algerian News Agency, Khelil was accused of “giving unjustified privileges to others”, “abusing the job” and “concluding deals that violate legislation and laws.”

The Pole Criminal Court, which specializes in financial and economic crimes, in the Sidi M’hamed Court in central Algiers, sentenced the former executive director of the state oil and gas group (Sonatrach), Mohamed Meziane, to 5 years in prison in the same case.

The prosecution had requested ten years in prison for Meziane, who is imprisoned in another case.

The verdict was issued against Chakib Khalil in absentia, as he is hiding outside the country, and is likely to be in the United States, as he holds American citizenship.

Sonatrach officials were accused in a case related to the construction of the natural gas plant in Arzew (Oran), which was entrusted to the Italian company “Sipam” by order of the former minister, at the expense of the Emirati company “Peruvac”, according to Mohamed Meziane’s statements during the trial.

The court sentenced in absentia “Gilberto Bolato and Massimo Stella, representatives of the Italian group Saipem, to 5 years in prison and one million dinars (6250 euros) in fines each,” according to the Algerian news agency.

Chakib Khelil, 82, left the government in 2010 after corruption scandals in the Sonatrach group, which affected its CEO and senior officials in the oil and gas company, were tried and convicted.

Khelil fled to the United States, and in 2013 an international arrest warrant was issued for him, but he was acquitted of charges of his involvement in receiving “bribes” from the Italian oil giant Eni in exchange for Algerian contracts.

Khalil returned to Algeria in 2016 after canceling the arrest warrant issued against him, but the Supreme Court reopened the corruption file regarding him, so he left Algeria again.

After Bouteflika stepped down on April 2, 2019 under the weight of the popular “Hirak” protests and army pressure, the judiciary opened investigations into cases in which those close to him were suspected of involvement, including Chakib Khelil.
Judicial rulings were issued against many former officials and businessmen, especially in corruption cases.

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