The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Sept. 28 that a Tokyo-based conglomerate has agreed to pay $19 million to settle charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when it inaccurately recorded improper payments to South Africa’s ruling political party in connection with contracts to build two multi-billion dollar power plants. The settlement is subject to court approval.

The SEC alleges that the Japanese company sold a 25 percent stake in a South African subsidiary to a company that it knew was a front for the African National Congress. This arrangement gave the front company and the ANC the ability to share in the profits from any power station contracts that the Japanese company secured, which ultimately totaled approximately $5 million, in return for using their political influence to help obtain the contracts. Through a separate, undisclosed arrangement the Japanese company paid the front company an additional $1 million in “success fees” that were inaccurately booked as consulting fees without appropriate documentation.

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