* No proof of intermediary contracts in Algeria-audit
* Audits were carried out by third parties at behest of Eni
* Saipem, Eni, Eni CEO under investigation
(Recasts lead, adds detail, background)
MILAN, Jan 16 External audits into Italian oil
company Eni's business activities in Algeria, which are
the subject of a corruption probe by Italian and Algerian
authorities, have found no evidence of illegal conduct by the
group, Eni said on Thursday.
Oil service group Saipem, which is 43-percent
owned by Eni, is under investigation for allegedly bribing
intermediaries to secure contracts in Algeria worth around $11
State-controlled Eni and its CEO Paolo Scaroni are also
under investigation in the same probe. Eni, Scaroni and Saipem
deny any wrongdoing.
"The results of the audits revealed neither evidence of
illegal or corrupt conducts of Eni, nor the existence of
intermediary contracts between Eni and the third parties under
investigation," Eni said in a statement.
The audits, which will be forwarded to judicial authorities,
were carried out by third parties at the behest of Eni, the oil
Saipem carried out a similar audit which was examined by
external consultants and was concluded in July. This found no
proof of payments to Algerian public officials.
The probe by Italian and Algerian prosecutors is continuing.
Eni, which has been operating in Algeria since 1981, has
extensive interests in the gas-rich country and holds a series
of gas exploration and development licenses.
In 2012, Algeria was Italy's second-biggest gas supplier
Italian prosecutors' allegations that Saipem executives paid
bribes worth 197 million euros ($268 million) to win contracts
with Algerian state-owned energy group Sonatrach have already
led to the ousting of senior managers at both Saipem and Eni.
Scaroni, who has reiterated his innocence on several
occasions, has been at the helm of Eni since June 2005 and is
one of Italy's most prominent business executives.
His mandate at Eni, Italy's biggest listed company, comes up
for review later this year. Scaroni has indicated his
willingness to stay on.
($1 = 0.7356 euros)
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Danilo Masoni and Jane