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Business

Algeria's Bouteflika sacks head of state energy firm

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-17

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika fired the managing director of state energy giant Sonatrach Thursday, naming another senior official at the firm to the post. Sonatrach accounts for 98 percent of oil-rich Algeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

AFP - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Thursday sacked the managing director of state energy giant Sonatrach and gave his job to another senior official in the firm, an energy ministry source said.
              
"President Bouteflika has sacked Noureddine Cherouati (who had held the post for just two years) and named as his replacement Abdelhamid Zerguine, who has been heading Sonatrach's subsidiary at Lugano in Switzerland," the official told AFP, asking not to be named.
              
Sonatrach accounts for 98 percent of the oil-rich north African country's foreign exchange earnings and in July reported that it recorded a net profit of $9.5 billion (6.6 billion euros) last year against $3.8 billion in 2009, up 284 percent. It has an annual turnover of more thazn 80 billion.
              
The firm employed 47,963 people as of the end of 2010.
              
For several weeks, rumours of Cherouati's impending dismissal have been frequently reported in the newspapers.
              
This week, the reports went as far as to name his successor, which led Cherouati to deny them.
              
The rumours were not "innocent", he told the French-language daily El Watan.
              
"It's a question of interest. Why did my predecessors not experience a similar campaign?"
              
Sonatrach was embroiled in a corruption scandal in 2009, leading to legal action against former managing director Mohamed Meziane in January 2010, who was jailed for two years, one of which was suspended, last May. He was also ordered to pay a fine of of around $7,000 (5,000 euros).
              
Abdelhafid Feghouli, who had succeeded Meziane on an interim basis, was also handed a one-year jail term, eight months suspended, and fined $3,000.
              
A week earlier, prosecutors in Oran, more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of the capital Algiers, had requested a six-year jail term and a $14,000 fine for the two men for corruption in company tenders for consultancy and security contracts as well as for misappropriation of public funds.
              
Numerous foreign companies operate in Algeria in partnership with Sonatrach, including Total and GDF (France), Repsol (Spain), Rosneft (Russia), ENI (Italy), BP (Britain), Statoil Hydro (Norway), Anadarko (US) and CNPC (China).
              
A multitude of service sector companies from all over the world have contracts with the Algerian group.

Date created : 2011-11-17

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