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Total Sa Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Total SA Deferred Prosecution Agreement: What You Need to Know

On May 29, 2019, French oil giant Total SA (Total) agreed to pay $398 million to settle charges of corruption in the United States and France. The settlement came as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) reached with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the French Parquet National Financier (PNF).

But what exactly is a deferred prosecution agreement and why did Total agree to it? Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement?

A deferred prosecution agreement is a legal arrangement between a prosecutor and a company accused of criminal wrongdoing. Under a DPA, the company agrees to pay a fine, cooperate with the investigation, and implement certain reforms over a specified period of time in exchange for the prosecutor’s agreement to defer or dismiss the charges. If the company meets its obligations under the DPA, the charges are usually dismissed.

DPAs are becoming increasingly common in white-collar crime cases, particularly cases involving alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials to obtain or retain business.

Why Did Total Agree to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement?

Total agreed to the DPA to settle charges that it paid bribes to Iranian officials to obtain lucrative oil and gas contracts. According to the DOJ, Total paid $60 million in bribes between 1995 and 2004.

Under the terms of the DPA, Total will pay a $245 million criminal penalty to the DOJ and a $153 million criminal penalty to the PNF. Total will also implement rigorous compliance measures, including enhanced due diligence procedures and mandatory anti-corruption training for employees. The company will be subject to ongoing monitoring by an independent compliance monitor for three years.

In a statement, Total acknowledged that the conduct at issue was “contrary to the values that Total has upheld for decades.” The company also emphasized its commitment to ethical business practices and compliance with the law.

What Does the Total Deferred Prosecution Agreement Mean for Other Companies?

The Total DPA serves as a reminder of the significant risks associated with FCPA violations and the potential consequences for companies that engage in corrupt practices. The DPA also underscores the importance of implementing effective anti-corruption compliance programs and conducting due diligence when entering into business relationships with foreign officials.

DPAs are becoming an increasingly popular tool for prosecutors in white-collar crime cases, allowing companies to avoid costly and time-consuming trials while still being held accountable for their actions. Other companies facing similar allegations may look to the Total DPA as a model for resolving their own cases.

In conclusion, the Total SA deferred prosecution agreement serves as a cautionary tale for businesses that engage in corrupt practices. It highlights the importance of robust anti-corruption compliance programs and due diligence in business dealings with foreign officials. Businesses must prioritize ethical business practices and compliance with the law to avoid the legal and reputational consequences of FCPA violations.