The indictment of the prosecutor was severe, the verdict is just as much. The Algiers court delivered its verdict on Tuesday (November 15th) in the case of the Augusta refinery acquired by the oil group Sonatrach in 2018. The former CEO of the company, Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and to a fine of 1 million dinars (about 6,900 euros).
Mazighi and Raissi convicted, Boumarouf acquitted
Boss of the oil group between March 2017 and April 2019, Ould Kaddour was prosecuted for “squandering of public funds, abuse of office et conflict of interest and privilege of a third party in a public contract” in connection with the acquisition of this refinery located in southern Italy. During the trial, which was held Tuesday, November 8 in the court of Algiers, the prosecutor had requested 18 years in prison against the ex-boss of Sonatrach.
Algeria: Ould Kaddour, from prison to the head of Sonatrach
Former vice-president of the marketing department, Ahmed el-Hachemi Mazighi, who led the Augusta takeover project, was sentenced to 7 years in prison and a fine of 1 million dinars. As for Ali Raissi, a former executive of the group, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison, while Brahim Boumarouf, also an executive, was acquitted.
A price considered excessive
The two main defendants were also ordered to pay the Treasury a fine of 600 million dinars (4.1 million euros), as well as 100 million dinars (690,000 euros) in damages for the benefit of Sonatrach, who is a civil party in this case. The court ordered the seizure of all the property belonging to the defendants and which had already been subject to of one seizure ordered by the investigating judge.
Algeria – Augusta Refinery: the announced fiasco turns out to be a good deal
Justice accuses the former CEO of Sonatrach of having squandered public money in the context of the acquisition of this refinery from Esso Italiana, the Italian subsidiary of the American ExxonMobil, for a total amount of 2.1 billion of dollars.
The accusations also related to the fact that this acquisition had not obtained the approval of the board of directors of the national oil company. During the trial, the judge considered the price of this refinery, which dates from the 1950s, to be excessive, while the prosecutor considered that the former management of Sonatrach simply squandered public money.
For Ould Kaddour’s lawyers, the charges are unfounded. The defense presented a document from Sonatrach dated October 2021 which concludes that the company did not suffer any prejudice related to this purchase. During their pleadings, the lawyers indicated that the refinery is today repaying the debts contracted with its parent company, Sonatrach, and that it generated 400 million dollars in profits in 2022, against 255 million. in 2021.