Total fined by French court in Iraq oil-for-food case

A view shows the Total Tower, French oil giant Total headquarters, at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

PARIS (Reuters) - A Paris court fined Total TOTF.PA 750,000 euros ($825,000) on Friday for corrupting foreign officials, overturning an earlier acquittal over the French oil giant's role in the United Nations' Iraqi oil-for-food program.

French prosecutors had appealed in 2013 after a lower court cleared the oil group and all other defendants accused of funneling proceeds from U.N-authorized oil sales to former president Saddam Hussein’s government via intermediaries, in defiance of international sanctions.

Under the 1996-2003 program, Iraq was allowed to sell oil in exchange for goods that met basic humanitarian needs, including food and medicines.

But an independent inquiry, led by the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, disclosed in 2005 that Baghdad had used the trades to solicit hidden surcharges from oil purchasers.

Between 2000 and 2002, Hussein’s regime collected $228 million in illicit payments from 2,200 companies in 60 countries, according to the report - part of an estimated $11 billion haul from sanctions-busting and kickbacks over more than a decade until the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Katharine Houreld