PARIS, Nov 25 (Reuters) – French oil company Total is to face trial in France over corruption allegations relating to Iranian contracts dating from the 1990s and early 2000s, the Paris prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.
Total agreed last year to pay $398.2 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil allegations that it paid bribes to win oil and gas contracts in Iran, in what was billed as the first coordinated action by French and U.S. law enforcement in a major foreign bribery case.
At the time, the Paris prosecutor recommended that the company and its then chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, be brought to trial. De Margerie died last month in a plane crash.
The late CEO would have also faced trial, but because of his death, the criminal action is discontinued, the prosecutor's office said.
Given existing legal timetable it could be several months or a year before the trial begins.
U.S. authorities said that between 1995 and 2004, Total paid about $60 million in bribes to induce an Iranian government official to help the company obtain lucrative development rights in three oil and gas fields related to the South Pars project.
A spokeswoman for Total confirmed it had received notification of the trial, without elaborating. Last year, the company had said that Total and de Margerie would demonstrate in any trial that their behaviour had been legal.
In its annual report, Total said it did not consider that the resolution of these cases would have a significant impact on the group's financial situation or consequences for its future planned operations.
(Reporting by Chine Labbe and Michel Rose; Editing by Alexandria Sage and Andrew Callus)
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