Boss of Total faces night in police custody

22nd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 21, 2007 (AFP) - The head of French oil company Total, who was detained by police early on Wednesday as part of a corruption probe, remains in custody and could spend the night at a police station, a source close to the case told AFP.

PARIS, March 21, 2007 (AFP) - The head of French oil company Total, who was detained by police early on Wednesday as part of a corruption probe, remains in custody and could spend the night at a police station, a source close to the case told AFP.

Christophe de Margerie was being held in a special financial police station in southeast Paris after being held for questioning over suspected corruption by the multinational oil giant in Iran.

The source said he was still in custody at 1800 GMT and might spend the night at the station.

Under French law, the financial judge in charge of the corruption probe is able to ask for Margerie to be held for an additional 24 hours counting from Thursday morning.

The investigation centres on suspicions that Total paid nearly 100 million Swiss francs (60 million euros, 80 million dollars), traced through two accounts in Switzerland, to win a contract in Iran, a source close to the matter told AFP earlier Wednesday.

A Total spokesman acknowledged that three executives from the company faced questioning "in connection with a judicial enquiry" opened in December 2006 concerning "a South Pars industrial project in Iran, signed by Total in 1997 with the Iranian national oil company NIOC."

Total was "completely behind its executives and confirms that the agreements signed respected the law," the spokesman added.

He named the other executives as finance director Robert Castaigne and the head of gas activities Philippe Boisseau.

Two former Total executives -- Michel Naylies and Patrick Rambaud -- were also being detained at the same police station as the others, a source told AFP.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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