Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Total - We're The Good Guys.....Honest Guv' - Part II

They really are, aren't they?

PARIS (AP) — A Paris court convicted French oil giant Total SA on Wednesday over the 1999 sinking of an aging and rusting tanker in rough seas, which caused France's worst-ever oil spill.

The court found Total guilty of maritime pollution and fined it the maximum penalty of $560,000. It also ordered Total and three other defendants to pay total damages of $285 million — the first time in France that a criminal court has awarded damages for an oil spill.

The court acquitted Total on a separate charge of complicity in endangering people and property.

The Erika, carrying fuel oil owned by a unit of Total, split in two and sank in rough seas off western France on Dec. 12, 1999. Nearly six million gallons of oil leaked into the Atlantic, killing up to 75,000 birds and blackening beaches.

The verdict was a stinging blow for Total, France's biggest company by market value. The Paris court faulted the company for "carelessness."

"It's a decision that surely will be popular and praised a lot," said Total lawyer Daniel Soulez-Lariviere, who said he would urge the company to appeal. "On the other hand, we have to see if it is just."

Popular? Mmmm, you think?