MILAN, April 16 (Reuters) - An Italian court has ruled that Pietro Varone, former chief of oil service firm Saipem’s engineering business, was improperly dismissed in connection with corruption allegations in Algeria, according to a court document seen by Reuters.
The court, which still has to give the reasons for its decision, also threw out Saipem’s claim for damages against Varone, ordering it instead to pay its former employee almost 1.2 million euros ($1.7 million), the ruling said.
Saipem, which has said it dismissed Varone on Jan. 8 2013, said it would appeal the ruling.
“Saipem does not share the conclusion (of the court)... and will appeal,” a Saipem spokesman said, adding Varone had originally asked Saipem for 8 million euros in damages.
Varone’s lawyers said there had been a clear violation of their client’s defence rights.
Varone is one of a number of executives from Saipem under investigation by prosecutors in Italy into allegations that Saipem paid bribes to win a series of contracts in the North African country worth some $11 billion.
Paolo Scaroni, outgoing CEO of oil major Eni which owns 43 percent of Saipem, is also under investigation. The probe is still ongoing and no one has been charged.
Saipem, Scaroni and Varone all deny any wrongdoing.
$1 = 0.7234 Euros Reporting by Emilio Parodi, writing by Stephen Jewkes. Editing by Jane Merriman