Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Emirates Airline was named in the top 10 first class cabins by therichest.com. Find out what position it came here.

Total faces UN investigation

Court says French energy group should answer charges of bribery and, complicity related to the UN Oil for Food Programme in Iraq

A French judge has placed Total, the country's biggest energy group, under formal investigation for suspected bribery in a case relating to the UN Oil for Food Programme in Iraq. The eight-year-old case has been revived even though a French criminal investigation was closed in 2007, and the prosecutor's office last year recommended dismissing allegations against Total's chief executive and other current and former employees.

Serge Tournaire, a new investigating judge, decided this year the company should answer charges of bribery, complicity and influence peddling, Total said in its annual report and a review published on its website. The case centres on allegations that current and former employees of Total and French diplomats received vouchers for Iraqi oil in exchange for lobbying the UN to loosen sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Total was formally charged last Thursday with corruption, Jean Veil, a company lawyer, told Dow Jones. "This formal investigation has been pronounced eight years after the beginning of the investigation without any new evidence being added to the affair," Total said. "The company believes that its activities related to the Oil for Food Programme have been in compliance with this programme." In its annual report for last year, Total said some of its current and former employees, including its chief executive Christophe de Margerie, had earlier been indicted under suspicion of bribery.

Mr de Margerie, who was Total's head of oil and gas exploration and production when the investigation was launched in 2002, was indicted in 2006. The following year, the case was transferred to the Paris prosecutor's office, which late last year recommended dismissing all charges. Judge Tournaire, who took over the case at the start of this year, was expected to close it but decided "against all odds" to launch a formal investigation, Mr Veil said.

The UN programme allowing Iraq to export oil in exchange for imports of food and other humanitarian goods ran from 1996 to November 2003, when sanctions against Iraq were lifted after the US invasion. It was aimed at relieving the impact the UN sanctions were having on ordinary Iraqis. Before the programme ended, Iraq sold US$65 billion (Dh238.73bn) of oil, but not all of the money went to alleviating the hardships of its populace.

A UN report found the regime had raised more than $10bn of foreign revenue illegally, which it diverted to its own uses. That was made possible through widespread collusion with the regime by corrupt foreign and corporate officials, the UN found. A series of UN and US investigations after the 2003 invasion found Saddam and his deputies had been demanding surcharges for foreign oil sales. The regime also raised revenue through oil smuggling.

Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, conducted an independent investigation of the Oil for Food Programme but "discarded any bribery grievance", Total said. tcarlisle@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 A sign points the way to an outdoor market popular with German visitors on the Polish side of the German-Polish border. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

In pictures: A decade since the European Union went east

May 1 will mark 10 years since the European Union expanded east, taking in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as new members. And though the border region between Germany and Poland is flourishing with trade and cultural exchange, the open border has also brought a sharp rise in crime.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National