Italian services firm Saipem said Wednesday that it will appeal a $37,000 fine handed down in connection with a corruption trial in Algeria.

An Algerian criminal court imposed a four million dinar, or about $37,104, fine against Saipem Contracting Algerie on Tuesday for allegedly inflating the price of a gas pipeline construction contract.

The contract was awarded by Algeria’s Sonatrach in 2009 and was worth about $477 million, Reuters said.

Saipem has denied any wrongdoing and told Reuters that it did not inflate prices above market rates.

The company said it will appeal the ruling.

No timeline for the appeal has been disclosed yet.

Saipem added that the Algerian court also approved a request to unfreeze two of the company’s bank accounts that had been frozen in 2010 in connection with the pipeline case.

Six men, including Sonatrach’s former CEO Mohamed Meziane, were sentenced to years long jail terms on Tuesday for charges ranging from money laundering and bribery to embezzlement as part of the same case.

The fine is just the latest legal hurdle Saipem is facing in connection with its Algerian operations.

In October, a Milan judge ordered Saipem and three of its former top executives along with two alleged intermediaries from Algeria to stand trial on charges of tax fraud and international corruption. 

The company allegedly paid out $217 million in bribes to win contracts with Sonatrach worth about $9 billion.

“Saipem acknowledges the judge’s decision and is confident that it will be able to demonstrate that there are no grounds for the company to be held liable under Italian Legislative Decree 231/2001 at the first instance trial,” Saipem said when the order was issued.

The Milan judge cleared Italy’s Eni, Saipem’s parent company, as well as its former chief Paolo Scaroni and its former head of North Africa of any wrongdoing.


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