ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The former Algerian energy minister and one-time OPEC chief, Chakib Khelil, denies any role in a bribery scandal that has led to an international arrest warrant being issued for him.

Khelil, who was in Washington D.C., told the newspaper El Khabar that as minister he acted only "to defend the interests of my country."

Algerian State Prosecutor Belkacem Zeghmati announced Monday the arrest warrants for Khelil, his wife and two children and a nephew of a former Algerian foreign minister.

The Algerian probe was triggered by an Italian inquiry into claims that oil company ENI and its subsidiary SAIPEM paid $256.1 million to secure a $14.6 billion contract with Algerian oil company Sonatrach.

Khelil said he was ill when a first summons arrived in May and awaited a second one.