Total will pay $398m to settle Iran case with US government

City A.M. Reporter
FRENCH oil company Total yesterday agreed to pay $398m (£263.2m) to settle criminal and civil charges brought by the US government over alleged payments of bribes to Iranian officials in exchange for oil and gas contracts.

Separately, the Paris prosecutor said Total and chief executive Christophe de Margerie should face trial in the same case.

“Total used illicit payments to win business in Iran, and reaped substantial financial benefits as a result,” Andrew Calamari, director of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said.

“Total must now pay back all of its profits from the company’s corrupt conduct and additionally pay criminal penalties on top of that.”

Total had, in anticipation, booked a €316m (£271.2m) provision in its accounts in the second quarter of last year in connection with the investigation.

In France, the prosecutor said Margerie should also face trial for misuse of company funds as part of the case, opened in 2006.

A Total spokesman confirmed it had been notified of the Paris prosecutor’s recommendation and said the company and Margerie – previously head of exploration and production for Total in the Middle East – would demonstrate in any trial that their behaviour had been legal.