Italy probes ENI for corruption in Iraq, Kuwait

An Italian prosecutor is investigating the country's largest energy group ENI and two of its executives over suspected corruption related to projects in Iraq and Kuwait, the company said Wednesday.

The Milan prosecutor's office is probing whether the executives took kickbacks from Italian engineering and construction firms in exchange for subcontracts to drill for oil in Iraq's Zubair and Kuwait's Jurassic fields.

Prosecutors are investigating for "international corruption" both the company, the two executives and three people who acted as intermediaries.

"ENI and (its subsidiary) Saipem have taken immediate disciplinary and precautionary action against the individuals involved," ENI said in a statement, adding that the two companies were also "offended parties."

"ENI and Saipem also intend to carry out all actions to safeguard their own interests and reputation, with particular attention to actions against all individuals and corporate bodies which will result involved," ENI said.

A source close to the investigation said the inquiry was also looking into the Italian firms Bonatti, Ansaldo, Renco, Elettra Energia and Elettra Progetti over suspected bribes or promises of kickbacks.

ENI has since 2009 headed a consortium drilling in Iraq's Zubair field while Saipem last year was awarded a contract to engineer and construct oil and gas treatment facilities in Kuwait.

Saipem and five of its management have been on trial in Milan since April related to alleged kickbacks they gave in 1995-2004 to obtain contracts in Nigeria, where they were part of an international consortium including the US giant Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).

ENI and its subsidiary were fined $365 million last year by US authorities.

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