The Fraud Squad in Paris, investigating corruption in the oil industry, have detained three high-ranking officials of the French oil giant Total, including the chief executive. Christophe de Margerie, his finance director and the head of Total’s gas-electric division, are being questioned by officers running an inquiry into alleged illegal payments to secure the development rights for a gas field in Iran.
De Margerie, who only stepped up to the chief executive position at Total last month, has been the focus of an inquiry by French judges since December. They discovered around 60-million euros in the Swiss bank accounts of an intermediary, money which is suspected to have been intended to secure the Iranian deal. The inquiry is also looking into claims of corruption relating to the oil-for-food programme in Iraq, and according to one report, other discrepancies in Cameroon.