- Algerian authorities have launched an investigation into the alleged corrupt Chief Executive officer, Mohamed Meziane, of the state owned oil firm giant Sonatrach, Energy Minister Chakib Khelil has confirmed.
Minister khelil said the chief executive has been placed under a judicial probe but did not give the details of the allegations against him.
"The chief executive of Sonatrach, the vice president in charge of marketing and four top executives of the company are being investigated by a judge," Mr Khelil told a news conference in Algiers late Sunday.
He further said that vice-president, Abdelhafid Feghouli, had been appointed interim head of the oil and gas group, stating that the probe has not affected Sonatrach's production.
Last Thursday Algerian newspapers reported that an examining magistrate had ordered Mr Meziane along with a company vice president and five executives to appear before him concerning allegations of corruption in company tenders for consultancy and security contracts.
Algeria is an Opec member and a big hydrocarbons exporter, supplying 15 per cent of Europe's natural gas. All foreign companies working in the country are required by law to set up joint ventures with Sonatrach.
Mr Meziane was appointed in September 2003 to head Algeria's biggest firm which employs 125 000 people.
The company accounts for 98 percent of the North African country's foreign exchange earnings. It made a remarkable profit of $9.2bn in 2008 for an annual turnover of $80.8bn.
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