Algeria issues arrest warrant for ex-OPEC chief

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s chief prosecutor says an international arrest warrant has been issued for former OPEC president Chakib Khelil for his alleged role in a bribery scandal involving Algeria’s state oil company, Sonatrach.

Prosecutor Belkacem Zeghmati says the warrant for Khelil, who also served as Algeria’s energy minister, was issued two weeks ago but only announced Monday. The warrant also names eight other people, including Khelil’s wife, their two children, and a nephew of a former Algerian foreign minister.

Algeria has followed Italy in announcing an inquiry into allegations that oil company ENI and subsidiary SAIPEM paid $256.1 million in bribes to secure a $14.6 billion contract with Sonatrach.

The charges generated a firestorm in Algeria in January.

Khelil, whose whereabouts are unknown, is a close ally of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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