Millennium Post

French oil giant Total’s CEO dies in Moscow plane crash

Russian and French experts were investigating on Tuesday a plane crash at a Moscow airport which killed the CEO of French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, whose private jet struck a snowplough on takeoff.

Russian investigators said the driver of the snow-clearing machine was drunk and that his actions, along with ‘an error by air traffic controllers’, appeared to have led to the crash — a claim disputed by the driver's lawyer. They also blamed senior airport officials for causing the accident through ‘criminal negligence’, and said several executives would be suspended. At Total, one of the world's biggest oil companies, staff at its Paris headquarters observed a minute's silence for their 63-year-old boss known affectionately as the ‘Big Moustache’ because of his distinctive facial hair.

‘The group is set up to ensure the proper continuity of its governance and its activities, to deal with
this tragic event,’ Total's secretary general Jean-Jacques Guilbaud said, as top executives were due to hold an emergency meeting.

While respected by the industry for expanding Total's activities around the world, De Margerie was also often mired in controversy as he helmed the group when it was embroiled in judicial woes including the UN ‘oil-for-food’ scandal.

Just hours before the crash, De Margerie had met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at his country residence outside Moscow to discuss foreign investment in Russia, the Vedomosti business daily reported, despite Western sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.
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