French doctor convicted of perjury over ties to oil firm Total

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 05, 2017 12:20 PM

By Emmanuel Jarry

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court on Wednesday convicted respected lung doctor Michel Aubier of perjury for lying under oath at a parlimentary hearing on air pollution about his two decade-long ties with oil multinational Total.

Aubier, who often appeared on televisions talk shows as an expert in his field, was paid 75,000 euros ($85,000) per year by Tota, a source familiar with the terms of the relationship said.

Total confirmed that he remains on its payroll.

The court handed Aubier, 69, a six-month suspended jail term and imposed a 50,000 euro fine in a verdict that marked the first time in France an individual has been found guilty of perjury for testimony given to a parliamentary commission.

The ruling went beyond the 30,000 euro penalty demanded by the prosecutor, a decision the judge said was due to the "particular seriousness of this false testimony before the representatives of the nation".

Aubier told a Senate commission in 2015 that he had no ties with the oil industry or other parties that may be concerned by the commission's investigations.

"I never minimized the effects of pollution on our health," Aubier told the court, adding that the links between pollution and cancer were weak.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged committing an error, though he pleaded it was made in good faith and was unintentional.

A Total spokesperson told Reuters Aubier would remain a medical adviser to the oil and gas company until the end of 2017, at which point he would turn 70 and retire.

(Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Andrew Callus/Jeremy Gaunt)