Turkmenistan's president says there is serious corruption in the oil and gas concerns that are the keystone of the country's economy.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov didn't give details in his statement to his Cabinet on Saturday, which was shown on national television, but its public character made it notable in the secretive country where news media are under state control.

The president said much of the corruption occurred with the direct participation of the former vice-premier for the energy sector, Baymyrat Khodzhamukhamedov, who was relieved of duty in November, reportedly for health reasons. The former vice-premier subsequently returned about $1.5 million he had taken in bribes, Berdymukhamedov said.