Paris, 24 October 2014 – Since the death of Christophe de Margerie on 20 October, a torrent of tributes to his life have been made by the media. However, Sherpa would like to remind that the Total’s deceased CEO has not brought the Group out of its long tradition of corruption, tax evasion and human rights abuses.
We could, therefore, recall Total’s case in Myanmar, Asia, from 1995 to 1998, when the group sought support from the armed forces of the ruling military junta. The latter literally enslaved a part of the local population to build a 409 km-long gas pipeline. The Myanmar case tarnished the image of the group to such an extent that it was forced to reach a mutual agreement with Sherpa which had brought the case before French courts. At a time when forced labour legislation did not allow to question Total’s responsibility in France, “this agreement was the only way to compensate the victims in this context of impunity of a French company which violated fundamental rights abroad” explains Marie-Laure Guislain, in charge of the litigation of Sherpa’s Globalisation and Human Rights program.
Today, on the American continent, in Argentina, the oil group is carrying out a shale gas development project in a protected natural area while disregarding complaints from local populations. In Africa, Nigeria is also affected by environmental disasters resulting from Total’s oil and gas operations, for which Friends of the Earth France have nominated the group for the 2014 Pinocchio Awards.
Furthermore, between the distribution of bribes in the “Iraq’ oil-for-food case” and the corruption of foreign public officials in Iran – case for which the group closed a 400 million-dollar transaction to put an end to legal proceedings in the United States – Total has also been targeted on several occasions for large scale corruption cases .
Lastly, how could we talk about this oil giant without mentioning the company’s fiscal paradox? With a net profit of nearly 10.8 billion euros in 2013, the Group manages not to pay any corporation tax in France! In 2017, Total could benefit from a tax credit for encouraging competitiveness income tax credit of 80 million euros because of the Tax credit for encouraging competitiveness and jobs (CICE in French).
Thus, when we go through the Total’s deceased CEO career, we cannot ignore the corruption and human rights abuses which have surrounded the group’s activities for decades.
Marie-Laure Guislain | +33 (0)1 42 21 33 25Last modified: 18 June 2015