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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 17:53 GMT
Ex-Elf bosses jailed for sleaze
Loik Le Floch-Prigent, former head of Elf
Le Floch-Prigent is already serving a jail term for corruption
Three former Elf executives have been given prison sentences for embezzling public funds from the French oil firm.

Former company chairman Loik Le Floch-Prigent and former director Alfred Sirven got five-year jail terms.

Former company official Andre Tarallo, was given four years and other verdicts were expected later on Wednesday.

They are among 37 people accused of embezzling about $350m from the formerly state-owned oil giant Elf in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The three were also heavily fined. Tarallo must pay two million euros, Sirven one million and Le Floch-Prigent 375,000 euros.

Le Floch-Prigent and other managers, who say they were part of a pre-existing system of bribes, allegedly creamed money from a huge fund set up to secure foreign deals.

Alfred Sirven and Andre Tarallo
Sirven and Tarallo were main slush fund managers
Le Floch-Prigent, who was also fined $400,000 euros by the Paris court, was appointed to run Elf by socialist President Francois Mitterrand in 1989.

Under his four-year tenure, the bribes paid out by Elf to officials around the world rocketed from $50m to $130m a year, prosecutors said.

Sirven, Le Floch-Prigent's former right-hand man, was in charge of Elf's main slush fund. Tarallo headed the company's African operation.

Sirven and Tarallo allegedly received jewels and properties. Le Floch-Prigent got the company to pay for his divorce.

They could have faced jail sentences of up to 10 years.

The other 34 defendants are former Elf executives and middlemen who allegedly arranged pay-offs around the world.

Le Floch-Prigent and Sirven were already serving jail terms for related offences at the corruption trial of former foreign minister Roland Dumas - who has been cleared on appeal.

Defence

During the trial Le Floch-Prigent said he knew of the slush fund system but not in detail.

He also said that that France's political elite at the time knew about - and benefited from - the company's slush funds.

He and others told prosecutors that French political parties were among the recipients of Elf's largesse.

Sirven and Tarallo have admitted to "mistakes" - but argued that they were led astray by a culture of bribery at Elf.

Elf was privatised in 1994, and says it no longer pays bribes.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Hugh Schofield
"The court found that the three enriched themselves to the tune of $300 million"



SEE ALSO:
French oil trial opens
17 Mar 03  |  Europe
Elf king who fell from power
13 Mar 03  |  Europe
French court clears ex-minister
29 Jan 03  |  Europe


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