French companies must implement sanctions against Russia – govt spokesman

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French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Tuesday it was paramount that French companies respect sanctions against Russia decided by the European Union and that oil giant TotalEnergies was doing that.

“What matters is that French companies implement sanctions,” Attal told France 2 television, when asked about TotalEnergies, which is under pressure from activist investors and NGOs to exit Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

A fourth package of EU sanctions decided on Monday called for no new investments in Russia, which was what TotalEnergies had already decided to do, Attal added.

TotalEnergies has condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and has suspended new investments in the country but has not followed the example of British peers BP and Shell which are withdrawing from Russia.

Activist investor Clearway Capital has written to the board of TotalEnergies calling on it to exit its Russian operations in light of the war in Ukraine or face a vote on the issue at its next shareholder meeting.

Two leading French NGOs also plan to take legal action against TotalEnergies over possible human rights abuses unless it cuts its business ties with Russia, they said in a letter to the energy major’s CEO. [L5N2VH4W9]

The French oil major holds a 19.4% stake in Novatek, Russia’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as a stake in the Novatek-led Arctic LNG project