Kazakhstan Dismisses Bribery Allegations

The Government of Kazakhstan dismissed allegations of bribery in Kazakhstan's thriving oil industry after U.S. prosecutors subpoenaed ChevronTexaco.

ChevronTexaco said on Thursday it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department, which is investigating the bribery allegations. The company said it did not believe it was a target of the probe and that all ChevronTexaco's deals in Kazakhstan had been in conformity with U.S. and Kazakh laws.

The Kazakh government, keen to attract billions of dollars to develop vast oil wealth in its sector of the Caspian Sea shelf, has shrugged off any suggestion of wrongdoing. "They (U.S. prosecutors) have presented no clear evidence of any Kazakh involvement in corruption schemes," a Kazakh government official told Reuters. He declined to be named.

ChevronTexaco became the first Western oil firm to tap the Central Asian state's huge onshore Tengiz field, setting up the Tengizchevroil venture in 1993. Massive investment by Western firms is vital for Kazakhstan which has pinned hopes of future prosperity on developing its oil industry.

ChevronTexaco holds 50 percent of the Tengizchevroil partnership. It also holds a 20 percent stake in the multinational Karachaganak condensate and natural gas field.

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