May 30 - France's largest oil producer Total SA has agreed to pay almost $400 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil allegations that it paid bribes to win oil and gas contracts in Iran. However a French prosecutor is calling for the CEO to go on trial in France. Kirsty Basset reports.
Buying business through bribes. That was the accusation brought by U.S. authorities against French oil company Total. It has now agreed to pay $398 million dollars to settle the allegations, including a fine of $245 million. Total was accused of paying $60 million in bribes to an Iranian government official to help get the rights to develop three oil and gas fields. The U.S criminal case will be dropped after three years if Total complies with the deferred prosecution agreement. But it could be a different story in its home country. A French prosecutor is recommending that chief executive Christophe de Margerie be brought to trial in France for allegedly corrupting foreign public officials over contracts with Iran in the 1990s and early 2000s - and for misuse of company funds. He was in charge of the Middle East division at the time the alleged wrongdoing began. If the case went to trial, Total says the company and its CEO would show their behaviour had been legal. The company's shares closed 1.7 percent lower on the news.