Total tied to Iraqi oil-for-food scandal?

Aug. 3, 2011 at 8:58 AM
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PARIS, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The top executive at French energy company Total and 18 others were referred to Paris courts over alleged ties to Iraq's oil-for-food program, a judge said.

The oil-for-food program gave Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein a mechanism to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian aid. The program ran from 1996 to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

A committee in 2005 alleged that thousands of companies paid billions of dollars in illegal kickbacks tied to the program. The 2005 report found that Baghdad was keen to sell its oil to companies that favored lifting economic sanctions against Iraq.

A French prosecutor decided to refer Total Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie, to the courts for his alleged ties to the scandal, the Financial Times reports. Total had one of the largest pre-war oil contracts in Iraq.

De Margerie was held for two days in connection with the scandal in 2006 though French prosecutors recommended in 2009 that the charges be dismissed. The Financial Times didn't indicate if new evidence surfaced against Total in connection to the oil-for-food program.

Total said it was confident it would be cleared in the case.

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