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UPDATE 1-Italy's Webuild CEO charged in rail tender rigging case - source

(Adds Webuild CEO’s comment)

ROME, March 16 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Webuild , Italy’s largest construction company, has been charged with bid rigging in a case over the awarding of contracts linked to a high-speed railway line in the north west of the country, a judicial source said.

Pietro Salini was among 30 people charged in the case involving the 53-kilometre line, known as the Terzo Valico, according to the source.

In a statement, Salini said he had always acted “in accordance with the law and in the interests of the country”.

Webuild, formerly known as Salini Impregilo, heads the COCIV consortium, the general contractor for the design and the construction of the Terzo Valico.

Lawyers for Salini, Francesco Mucciarelli and Grazia Volo, said that they would be able to “show the good faith of the CEO and the entire company”, in emailed comments.

Mucciarelli and Volo said a conversation between Salini and a top manager of COCIV, at the heart of the prosecutors’ case, had taken place after a tender had been assigned.

Regarding the conversation, Salini said he only “expressed concerns about the quality of the companies that had participated in the subcontracting tenders” of the consortium.

Prosecutors in the port town of Genoa have been investigating since 2016 the system that was used to assign tenders within the near 7 billion euros ($8.35 billion) project.

The statute of limitations on the alleged crimes runs out by the middle of next year, meaning that any trial would have to be concluded by then.

The railway line has been under construction since 2012. ($1 = 0.8384 euros) (Reporting by Emilio Parodi and Cristina Carlevaro in Milan and Giulia Segreti in Rome; editing by Carmel Crimmins)

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