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FACTDROP: Oil-for-Food Corruption Trial Opens in Paris


Oil-for-Food Corruption Trial Opens in Paris

Total, CEO fight charges as oil-for-food trial opens in Paris

Πηγή: Downstream Today
By Geraldine Amiel, Dow Jones Newswires
Jan 21 2013

The trial of Total SA (TOT) and its Chairman and Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie for alleged corruption and bribery--in connection with the U.N.-led Oil-for-Food program in Iraq between the two Gulf wars--opened Monday in a Paris court.

Total and its CEO reject the charges, a spokeswoman for the group said.

Total, de Margerie and 18 other companies and individuals are listed as defendants in the case. Some defendants Monday called into question the constitutionality of the charges, as the alleged wrongdoing would have occurred outside France. All are denying any wrongdoing.

The trial is scheduled to last until Feb. 20, if there are no postponements.

If found guilty, individuals could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined 150,000 euros ($199,770) and companies could be fined as much as EUR1.875 million.

The United Nations' Oil-for-Food program, which ran from 1996 to 2002, allowed the Iraqi authorities to sell around $65 billion worth of crude oil to buy primary goods and mitigate the impact on the Iraqi population of the international embargo and sanctions against the country at that time. Part of the proceeds were also used to pay damages to Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion of the country in 1991 and U.N. operations there.

Under the program, the Iraqi authorities sold oil at a U.N.-fixed price per barrel to companies and individuals through contracts, with the money paid to an escrow account at the United Nations. Companies such as Total bought some of the oil, either directly or from intermediaries who had initially signed a contract with the Iraqi government.

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