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Ex-Oil Executive Returns To Court

March 12, 2001

PARIS (AP) _ A former oil executive arrested abroad last month after four years on the run will return to a French court Monday when a major corruption trial resumes after a five-week break.

Alfred Sirven, the former No. 2 at Elf Aquitaine, is alleged to have been the central figure in a vast scheme staged within the oil giant, involving a slush fund to buy influence in France and around the world. The misappropriation scheme involved $400 million in Elf funds.

Sirven, 74, was captured Feb. 2 in the Philippines, where had been in hiding for nearly four years. He was extradited to France and appeared in court Feb. 7. The trial was suspended to allow him to prepare his defense.

The Elf trial opened Jan. 22, with Sirven tried in absentia until his return to France.

High-profile defendants in the affair include former French foreign minister Roland Dumas and former Elf President Loik Le Floch-Prigent. Elf Aquitaine was taken over last year by the French-Belgian group TotalFina.

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