France’s Total has agreed to pay $398mn in fines and penalties to the US government to settle charges related to “illicit payments” to “an Iranian government official” via intermediaries to win contracts to develop offshore Iranian oil and gas fields. US District Court papers suggest the French major paid $60mn in bribes over 10 years to 2004 facilitating its re-entry into the Iranian upstream. The bribes are alleged to have helped Total win 1995 contracts with state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to develop oil and gas fields in and around Iran’s Sirri Island, and part of its giant South Pars gas field.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission says Total made over $150mn from the “bribery scheme” which it “attempted to cover up” through “sham consulting agreements with intermediaries of the Iranian official.” “Total had inadequate systems to properly review the consulting agreements and lacked sufficient internal controls to comply with federal laws prohibiting bribery,” the SEC adds. (CONTINUED - 391 WORDS)