France: Total judged for « corruption of public officials abroad »

The prosecutor’s office on Friday ordered the confiscation of 250 million euros against the oil group Total, tried for corruption of foreign public officials on the sidelines of the conclusion of contracts in Iran in 1997.
In addition to this confiscation by the State, by way of additional penalty, the alleged proceeds of the offense, he also asked for a fine of 750,000 euros, the maximum incurred by a legal person in this type of case.
The judgment was reserved on December 21st.
Total is believed to have paid some $ 30 million in bribes between 2000 and 2004 under a consultancy contract to facilitate the signing of an agreement for the huge South Pars gas field.
For the prosecutor, the contract with Baston Associated LTD « actually covered corruptive payments », much of it intended for a son of former Iranian President Hachemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997), Mehdi.
He then ran subsidiaries of the Iranian national oil company NIOC, with whom Total signed the South Pars contract on September 28, 1997.
The prosecutor agreed that Total’s « pattern of corruption » used by Iran at the time was a thing of the past and that « it should be done differently today » to achieve the same ends.
He nonetheless asked the court to « assert the place of France in the fight against international corruption » and send a message to large companies, as well as to the countries with which they deal, by sanctioning Total.
The audience was briefly interrupted by a couple holding placards proclaiming: « Corruption destroys our freedom in Iran. »
In May 2013, the oil group concluded a transaction with the US authorities putting an end to the US lawsuits on similar facts.
Total had agreed to pay $ 245 million to the US Department of Justice and $ 153 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
DETACHED PROTAGONISTS
On Thursday, during the first hearing, her lawyers had notably invoked the principle that no one can be tried twice for the same facts.
The representative of Total, Jean-Jacques Guilbaud, former director of human resources and former secretary general, now advising the CEO, had evaded the questions to avoid, he said, « the slightest difference » compared to the version delivered as part of the procedure in the United States.
The oil group, legal entity, is the last defendant in this trial. The others have disappeared.
Christophe de Margerie, who at the time was managing director of Total Middle East, which he will later become the CEO, was killed in a plane crash in Moscow.
Iranian intermediary Bijan Dadfar, a leader of Baston Associated LTD, who was to be tried for complicity, has recently died of illness, his lawyer told Reuters.
Another Iranian intermediary prosecuted for complicity, Abbas Yazdi, reputedly close to Mehdi Rafsanjani, for his part was kidnapped in Dubai and his body was never found, according to his former French lawyer. The prosecutor nonetheless requested formally against him three to four years in prison.
In their pleadings, Total’s lawyers again challenged the charge of bribery, at least under the laws in force at the time, and defended the idea that the alleged acts related to trading in influence at the time. foreigner, then not repressed by French law.
« The facts of which your court is seized date more than 20 years (…) Over the past 20 years, laws and practices have profoundly transformed, » argued Claude Serra. « Total has taken all possible measures to be preserved today from the risk of corruption. »
« Total is no longer the same company, » he added. « Total today actively participates in the fight against international corruption. »
Source: Ecodafrik

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