The Nanterre public prosecution office in France is investigating a complaint from environmentalist groups against oil major TotalEnergies over alleged "misleading commercial practices", it said on Jan. 26.

The investigation was opened in December 2021, on a complaint filed in 2020, but it was only confirmed on Jan. 26.

"This complaint is the subject of an open investigation for misleading commercial practices," the prosecutor's office said.

The fact that the prosecutor's office decided to launch a probe is not in itself an indication that it sees the company as guilty. The probe may eventually lead to a trial, or be shelved.

There has been a series of civil lawsuits and complaints filed by environmental groups, arguing that TotalEnergies' public advertising of its climate-friendly investments are misleading given the much larger amount of money the company invests in oil and gas exploration and production.

Total denied the campaign groups' accusations of so-called greenwashing by the company.

"TotalEnergies implements its strategy in a concrete way -investments, new businesses, significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, etc. - and is in line with the objectives that the company has set itself to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050," it said.