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Panama Papers Leak Exposes How Saipem Used Shell Companies

The law firm that was the center of the “Panama Papers” leak earlier this year may have been involved in a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme tied to contracts from Algeria energy company Sonatrach — contracts that a firm called Saipem received.

According to a report from the Internal Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the law firm likely helped in setting up a Swiss bank account for the creation of shell organizations located in the Caribbean. Italian prosecutors believe Farid Bedjaoui, who is accused of creating these entities, coordinated more than $270 million in bribes that allowed Saipem to receive more than $10 billion worth of contracts for pipeline projects.

The shell companies purchased through the Swiss bank account may have been used to divert bribery payments to the family members and friends of the Algerian energy minister, according to the ICIJ. Bedjaoui has denied that he was involved in any wrongdoing.

It’s worth noting that former Sonatrach Vice President Belkacem Boumediene is currently serving a five-year prison sentence, while the company’s CEO was also ordered to serve five years in prison, but had his sentence suspended. Additionally, back in February, Saipem announced that it would appeal a $37,000 fine levied against it in a previous corruption trial.

The case involves a complex web of alleged corruption, and it has all been exposed by a whistleblower through the Panama Papers leak. This demonstrates the power whistleblowers have to hold powerful people accountable for their actions.

If you know of any wrongdoing within your organization, you may be able to serve as a whistleblower. To learn more about the legal protections available to you, speak with an experienced Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.

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