Millennium Post

Oil giant Total fined for Iran corruption

Paris: A French court on Friday fined oil giant Total 500,000 euros ($575,000) for corruption after finding it guilty of paying bribes while bidding for a huge gas contract in Iran in 1997.

The French company was accused of paying $30 million in bribes to middlemen, in return for help in securing the rights to the South Pars natural gas field, the world's largest. In 2013, Total paid $398 million in the US to settle similar charges arising in that country out of the joint French-US investigation. The French part of the probe, which was launched back in 2006, initially covered both the 1997 South Pars deal, worth $2 billion, and the 1995 concession for the Sirri A and E oil fields.

Total was suspected of paying a total of $60 million in bribes between 1995 and 2004.

But in the end the multinational was only tried for the $30 million it paid in connection with South Pars after 2000, when a new French law on "corruption of foreign public officials" came into effect.

While convicting the company the court rejected prosecutors' call for it to seize 250 million euros in assets -- investigators' estimate of the value of the proceeds of the corruption.

Total's late CEO Christophe de Margerie was also being investigated before his sudden death in a plane crash in Moscow in 2014.

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