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Iranian Oil Ministry official says will lodge complaint in Statoil case

Tehran, May 28, IRNA -- Mehdi Hashemi, a ranking official in Iran's Oil Ministry, Wednesday said he will lodge a complaint with Iranian Judiciary and international courts within the next month against the bribe charge linking him with Norway's giant Statoil.

Statoil is charged to have signed a deal to bribe influential figures in the Iranian ministry to win energy contracts.

Following Norwegian media reports alleging that Statoil had inked a 15.2-million-dollar contract with Abbas Yazdan-Panah, Iranian manager of the London-based consultancy Horton Investments, police raided Statoil's headquarters on Sept 11, 2003 to find any documents proving the report.

According to the Norwegian economic weekly Dagens Naeringsliv, Yazdan-Panah had close ties to Hashemi, managing director of Iran's Fuel Consumption Optimization Organization.

On April 6, Iran's parliamentary Energy Commission called for use of maximum diplomatic capacity to make Norway present the required documents on the bribery scandal.

"Majlis will by no means allow any effort to divert the case from its natural course or conceal the truth," the commission spokeswoman Tahereh Rezazadeh said.

Hashemi said he reserves the right to sue Norwegian Statoil and media.

On the last working day -- May 26 -- of the Sixth Majlis, the Investigation Commission offered a report that it has found no proof linking Hashemi to Horton Investments.

"No document is available to reveal Hashemi has received money.

"Hashemi has acknowledged meeting Statoil officials as part of his job as head of Offshore Facilities Company's directorate head and IFCOO managing director, adding that his contacts did not concern any project of Oil Ministry," added the report.

... Payvand News - 5/28/04 ... --

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