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Total SA, France’s largest oil producer has finally agreed with the US Justice Department to accept a deferred prosecution agreement and pay $245.2 million in damages to bring an end to a three year court case. As part of the agreement Total must also give up an extra $153 million of illegal profits, making the total loss to the company $398.2 million, and equating to the fourth largest penalty under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) anti-bribery law.
Total faced three charges that violated the FCPA, over claims that it paid bribes to win oil and gas contracts in Iran.
US authorities claimed that between 1995 and 2004, Total paid $60 million to bribe Iranian government officials into helping the company secure lucrative contracts to develop oil and gas across three different fields.
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Unfortunately for Total this settlement may not be the end of the affair. A French prosecutor is now calling for Total’s Chief Executive Officer, Christophe de Margerie, to stand trial for corrupting foreign public officials in Iran, and for the misuse of company funds to pay the bribes.
Total have been made aware of this latest twist in the trial and a spokesman has said that both the company and its CEO de Margerie are willing to prove in front of any court that their behaviour was legal.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com