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Total CEO Held for a Second Day of Questioning

The chief executive of oil company Total was held for a second day of questioning Thursday in an investigation into the group's activities in Iran, while two other executives were released with no charges filed, the company said.

French police are investigating whether Total paid bribes to win a contract to develop the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf in 1997, as well as other allegations of wrongdoing, judicial officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of laws requiring that details of investigations be kept secret.

Total Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie was still speaking to investigators Thursday morning, said company spokesman Paul Floren. De Margerie was head of exploration and production of Total predecessor TotalFina at the time of the Iran deal.

Two other Total executives questioned in the case -- Total Chief Financial Officer Robert Castaigne and the company's upstream operations executive, Philippe Boisseau -- were back at work Thursday, Floren said. Judicial officials said that two former Total employees had been questioned and released as well.

De Margerie has already been targeted in a French probe over the scandal-ridden oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Floren said the company stands behind the officials, and that the 1997 agreement respected the law.

Shares in Total rose 0.8% to 50.30 euros ($66.97) in Paris trading.

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