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Algeria electricity CEO under investigation

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- The former and current heads of Algeria's state electricity company are under investigation for alleged corruption along with 15 others, a top official said. It is reportedly the latest in a series of corruption cases involving bribes paid by foreign companies to win bids on projects.

Algeria is rich in oil and gas, and, bolstered by the high price of oil in the past 10 years, it has embarked on ambitious infrastructure projects, many of which are now subject to corruption investigations.

Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said Monday night in the eastern city of Constantine that Sonelgaz's chief executive and his predecessor were being investigated and would be "held responsible."

Local media reports citing unnamed officials said the investigation is over the high price paid for two power plants built by foreign firms.

Sonelgaz CEO Nourredine Bouterfa and his predecessor, Abdelkrim Bouighaniem, haven't made any public reaction about the allegations against them.

Algeria has been rocked by a series of massive corruption scandals since 2010. Many of the scandals have been linked to Yousfi's predecessor as energy minister, Chakib Khelil, a close associate of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

There is a widespread public perception in Algeria that corruption goes all the way to the top levels of government and any investigations are just the results of score-settling between rival elites.