LONDON, July 27 (Reuters) - French oil company Total SA booked a 316 million euro ($389 million) charge to its accounts on Friday to cover the likely cost of settlement with U.S. authorities over an investigation into corruption in Iran.
The investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice dates back to 2003, and is in connection with gas contracts awarded in the oil and gas producing Gulf country in the 1990s.
Total and its chief executive Christophe de Margerie, who was in charge of its Middle East division at the time, have been under investigation in France in connection with the same affair since 2006.
Western Europe’s third largest oil industry player, Total has been talking to the U.S. authorities about an out of court settlement since 2010, and late last year, the SEC made a proposal that included fines, but was rejected by Total.
Reporting second quarter profits of 2.9 billion euros, Total said it took the charge “in light of recent progress” in those discussions.
The inquiry concerns a deal between the company and a consultant in Iran, and aims to “verify whether certain payments made under this agreement would have benefited Iranian officials in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the company’s accounting obligations,” Total’s latest annual report says. ($1 = 0.8130 euros) (Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by David Cowell)