French Prosecutor Recommends Corruption Trial for Total, CEO

PARIS - Prosecutors Wednesday recommended sending oil company Total SA's chairman and chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, to trial in Paris to face corruption and embezzlement charges related to deals in Iran dating back to the 1990s.

The Paris prosecutor said he was also recommending sending Total to trial, alongside its CEO. Under French law, magistrates can prosecute corporations, not just individuals.

Total said the company and Mr. de Margerie acted in accordance with all applicable French laws.

The decision to send the group and its CEO to trial now rests with the magistrate in charge of the investigation.

The French probe into Total's Iranian activities was part of coordinated legal action with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which on Wednesday fined the oil company a combined amount of $398 million in the same case.

U.S. prosecutors alleged in court documents that Total bribed an Iranian official to obtain lucrative oil and gas concessions, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the 1977 law that bars companies that trade on U.S. stock exchanges from paying bribes overseas.

"These settlements, the outcome of which are customary in the U.S., allow us to put an end to this investigation," said Total Chief Financial Officer Patrick de la Chevardiere.


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