Totalís CEO Christophe de Margerie Dies in Moscow Plane Crash
October 21st, 2014
Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of French oil company Total, has died in an air crash in Moscow.
His corporate jet collided with a snow plough and was then engulfed in flames. All four people on board were killed.
The driver of the snow plough was drunk, according to Russian investigators.
Mr de Margerie, 63, had been chief executive of Europeís third largest oil company since 2007. He was highly regarded within the oil industry.
Research Credit: PW
http://www.cryptogon.com/?p=45220 Christophe de Margerie
Chief executive officer, Total SA
Christophe de Margerie joined the Group after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris in 1974. He served in several positions in the Group's Financial Department and Exploration-Production division. He became president of TOTAL Moyen-Orient in 1995 before joining the Group's executive committee as the President of the exploration and production division in May 1999. He then became Senior Executive Vice-President of exploration and production of the new TotalFinaElf group in 2000. In January 2002 he became President of the Exploration & Production division of TOTAL. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee since 1999. He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors by the shareholders' meeting held on May 12, 2006 and became Chief Executive Officer of TOTAL as from February 14, 2007. He died in a plane crash in Russia on October 20, 2014.
(Reuters) - Total SA (TOTF.PA) agreed to pay $398.2 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil allegations that it paid bribes to win oil and gas contracts in Iran, and a French prosecutor has recommended that the company and its chief executive be brought to trial in its home country.
France's largest oil producer on Wednesday agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice to enter a deferred prosecution agreement and pay a $245.2 million fine to resolve three charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Total will also give up $153 million of illegal profit in a related civil settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The criminal penalty is the fourth-largest under the FCPA, an anti-bribery law, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.
U.S. authorities said that between 1995 and 2004, Total paid about $60 million in bribes to induce an Iranian government official to help the company obtain lucrative development rights in three oil and gas fields.
The U.S. criminal case will be dropped after three years if Total complies with the deferred prosecution agreement, which calls for it to retain an independent compliance monitor.
But the affair is not over, as a French prosecutor said Total and its Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie should face trial for allegedly corrupting foreign public officials over contracts with Iran in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The prosecutor also said de Margerie should face trial for misuse of company funds.
A Total spokesman confirmed that the company had been notified of the Paris prosecutor's recommendation and said the company and de Margerie would demonstrate in any trial that their behavior had been legal.
U.S. authorities said Total has American depositary shares (TOT.N) that trade on the New York Stock Exchange, and qualifies as an "issuer" that could face sanctions under the FCPA.
According to papers filed with a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Total funneled the illegal payments mainly to Swiss bank accounts designated by two unnamed intermediaries who acted at the behest of the Iranian official.
One intermediary worked at a Swiss private bank, and the other was a company in the British Virgin Islands, the court papers show.
"We announce the first coordinated action by French and U.S. law enforcement in a major foreign bribery case," Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a statement.
"Our two countries are working more closely today than ever before to combat corporate corruption, and Total, which bought business through bribes, now faces the criminal consequences across two continents," Raman added.
Carr said the largest criminal penalty imposed under the FCPA is the $450 million that German engineering company Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) agreed to pay in 2008, as part of an overall $800 million settlement with U.S. authorities.
Total had flagged a possible settlement in an SEC filing last year when it took a 316 million euro ($409 million) charge against its accounts, a relatively small sum for a company that makes billions of dollars in profit every quarter.
Talks between U.S. authorities and Total, Western Europe's third-largest oil company, had begun in 2010.
A French investigating magistrate will decide whether a trial is to be held for the outspoken, mustachioed 61-year-old de Margerie, whose mandate as chief executive is scheduled to expire in 2015.
Total's chief is a well-known figure in international oil circles who was in charge of the company's Middle East division at the time the alleged wrongdoing began. He and the company have been under investigation in France since 2006.
Shares in Total closed down 1.7 percent at 39.40 euros.
The cases are U.S. v. Total SA, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, No. 13-00239; and In re: Total SA, SEC Administrative Proceeding No. 3-15338.
(Additional reporting by Chine Labbe and Michel Rose; Writing by Andrew Callus and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Mark Potter, David Holmes, Tim Dobbyn and David Gregorio)
Total CEO Christophe De Margerie Killed In Moscow Plane Collision
AP | By LYNN BERRY and LORI HINNANT
Posted: 10/20/2014 9:44 pm EDT Updated: 12/20/2014 5:59 am EST
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MOSCOW (AP) ó Christophe de Margerie, the charismatic CEO of Total SA who helped establish the multinational oil company as one of the world's biggest, was killed at a Moscow airport when his private jet collided with a snowplow whose driver was reportedly drunk.
As well as questioning the driver, Russian investigators said Tuesday they were also assessing whether any mistakes were made by air traffic controllers in the crash which also killed three French crew members.
The crash occurred at 11.57 p.m. Monday local time when the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 burst into flames after hitting the snowplow during takeoff from Vnukovo airport, which is used by Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, and visiting foreign leaders.
"We lost a true friend of our country," Putin said.
Video from the scene showed the charred plane lying on a grassy field. Though it had snowed earlier in the day, it was unclear how much snow remained at the airport at the time of the crash.
The driver of the snowplow, Vladimir Martynenko, is at the center of the investigation following allegations, denied by his lawyer, that he was drunk.
"At the current time, it has been established that the driver of the snowplow was in a state of alcoholic intoxication," Tatyana Morozova, an official with the Investigative Committee, Russia's main investigative agency.
As well as questioning the driver of the snowplow, the committee's spokesman Vladimir Markin said the role of air traffic controllers in the incident is being assessed.
De Margerie, 63, was a regular fixture at international economic gatherings and one of the French business community's most outspoken and recognizable figures. His trademark silver handlebar earned him the nickname "Big Mustache."
Laurence Parisot, a friend of de Margerie's and the former head of France's business lobby Medef, called him an "immense Frenchman" with "a love of life, laughter and the pleasures of the table."
A critic of sanctions against Russia, de Margerie argued that isolating Russia was bad for the global economy. He traveled regularly to Russia and recently dined in Paris with a Putin ally who is facing EU sanctions over Russia's involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.
Hollande expressed his "stupor and sadness" at the news and praised de Margerie for defending French industry on the global stage, and for his "independent character and original personality."
De Margerie started working for Total in 1974 after receiving his degree because it was close to home. It was a difficult time to join the firm as the OPEC oil embargo, which led to a fourfold increase in prices, was coming to an end.
"I was told 'You have made the absolute worst choice. Total will disappear in a few months,'" he said in a 2007 interview with Le Monde newspaper.
De Margerie rose through the ranks, serving in several positions in the finance department and the exploration and production division before becoming president of Total's Middle East operations in 1995. He became a member of Total's policy-making executive committee in 1999, CEO in 2007, before adding the post of chairman in 2010.
He was a central figure in Total's role in the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq, which was launched in the mid-1990s to alleviate the pressure on the country's people in the wake of the sanctions imposed after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The program allowed Iraq to sell some oil in world markets in return for much-needed humanitarian needs but came under fire for widespread abuses through to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Total, among others, was accused of breaching the terms of the program. Last year, the company and de Margerie were acquitted in France of corruption charges related to the program.
Under his leadership, Paris-based Total claims it became the fifth-largest publicly traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world, with exploration and production operations in more than 50 countries.
"In a big company like Total, where you have 100,000 employees worldwide, we are based in 130 offices, yet Christophe de Margerie managed to make a connection with all of us," said Khaled Yousuf, who works as a manager for affiliate relations at the Paris headquarters.
Jean-Jacques Guilbaud, Total's secretary general, said the group would continue on its current path and that the board would meet in coming days to discuss who will succeed de Margerie. Total planned a minute of silence in its offices worldwide.
Names being touted as possible successors include Philippe Boisseau, the head of Total's new energy division, Patrick Pouyanne, who leads the refining sector and Arnaud Breuillac, head of exploration and production.
After dipping slightly early Tuesday, Total's share price closed 3.5 percent higher, even more than the 2.3 percent rise in the main Paris stock index.
Hinnant contributed from Paris. Milos Krivokapic and Greg Keller in Paris, Iuliia Subbotovska and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, and Angela Charlton in London contributed to this report.