Kazakhstan Says Kashagan Bribe Claims ‘Internal Fight’

Claims of bribery in the Italian media involving Italian energy giant Eni and its participation in Kazakhstan’s oil-rich Kashagan field, stem from “an internal fight between the project’s participants,” Kazakhstan Oil and Gas Ministry Executive Secretary Kanatbek Safinov, said on Friday.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported on Thursday that a Milan court might ban Eni from operating in Kazakhstan over allegations the company gave bribes to Timur Kulibayev, son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev. The Italian prosecutors suspect Agip Kco, Eni’s subsidiary in Kazakhstan, of giving at least $20 million in bribes to Kulibayev through 2007. A court decision is expected within weeks.

But Safinov told reporters that until it had delivered its verdict, there was little clarity about the claims.

“Let’s the court make its decision and we will have a legal fact to speak about. There are no such facts now,”

Safinov said he thought it unlikely there would be changes to the project, and the claims in the report merely reflect internal project management disputes between partners.

“Some kind of an internal fight for operational control is constantly going on in the Kashagan project. I do not think that the operator will be changed.”

Eni’s top managers, including CEO, Paolo Scaroni, may be charged with promoting international corruption if the allegations are proven, the paper said. Eni was unavailable to comment for RIA Novosti.

Safinov said that if the accusations were proven to have substance then Eni would be held accountable, but that the project would still proceed.

“If there are some illegal actions [in the project], Eni will be responsible for them. As for the project as a whole, it will develop further.”

The giant Kashagan oil field, located in the northern Caspian Sea, is estimated to contain 4.850 billion tons of oil and is being developed a field of international energy players including Total, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Inpex and Eni, alongside Kazakhstan’s KMG Kashagan.


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