Saipem chief quits amid corruption probe

Corruption probe: Chief executive Pietro Franco Tali resigned on notice of court investigation

Saipem said Wednesday its chief executive quit and the chief operating officer of its construction division was suspended following a court notification of a corruption investigation at the company.

Separately, state oil company Eni also said its chief financial officer, Alessandro Bernini, had also resigned.

The Italian service player, which denied wrongdoing, said the investigation from Milan's prosecutor is related to certain company contracts to 2009 in Algeria.

"Saipem believes that its business activities have been conducted in compliance with applicable law, internal procedures, its code of ethics and Model 231, and the company has offered its full cooperation to the Milan prosecutor's office," the company said in a statement.

Its board on Wednesday accepted the voluntary resignation of chief executive Pietro Franco Tali, Saipem said.

"Although Mr. Tali is in no way a subject of the prosecutor's investigation, he felt his resignation would better enable the company to respond to the prosecutor's inquiry," the company statement said.

At Eni, Bernini will be replaced by Massimo Mondazzi, an executive vice president for the company's Asia region.

Eni said it had appointed Umberto Vergine, chief operating officer of the company's gas and power unit, as the new top manager at Saipem.

"While Alessandro Bernini considers that his actions were right and proper, it is his view that Eni's interests are better served by his resignation," the company said in a statement.

Pietro Varone, COO of the company's engineering and construction unit, as well as another unnamed official, were suspended by the board from their positions after being notified of the same probe.

The board also intends to conduct an audit by external consultants "aimed at verifying the proper application of its internal procedures related to anticorruption and the prevention of illicit activity."

The board said it did not believe the investigation would materially affect company results.

Saipem shares dove 4.33% at day's end on Italy's exchange.

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