Thursday, May 10, 2012 -
Italian oil and gas giant Eni SpA is under investigation by authorities at home for suspected corruption in Kazakhstan, an unnamed judicial source told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.
The investigation may throttle or completely halt Eni’s major investments in Central Asia’s petro-rich but graft-prone country.
According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera says Eni paid Timur Kulibayev, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaayev’s son-in-law and former head of sovereign welfare fund Samruk-Kazyna, $20 million in its first round of investment in the Kashagan oil field.
Eni has a 16.8 percent share in Kashagan, while firms such as Total, Shell, and KazMunaiGas (KMG) also investing in the project. ENI is leading its exploration phase.
Italian prosecutors have called for an Italian court to either place the energy company’s Kazakh subsidiary under special administration or bar Eni from negotiating contracts related to Kazakhstan, according to the source.
Several current managers of the company are under investigation, although Eni chief executive officer Paolo Scaroni is not one of them, the source told Reuters.
A court will decide what actions it may take against Italy’s largest listed corporation at a hearing scheduled for May 29.
Eni is a major shareholder in Kazakhstan’s two largest oil and gas fields Kashagan and Karachaganak, viewed as major drivers for the future growth of the country’s energy output.
The Italian state-run company entered Kazakhstan in 1992, only months after its independence from the Soviet Union.
The company has a 32.5 percent holding in Karachaganak oil and gas prospect, which produces almost half of Kazakhstan’s gas and nearly 20 percent of its oil.