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U.S. Firm Pays Fines for Illegal Surcharges to Irag

U.S. gas giant El Paso Corp. will pay 7.7 million U.S. dollars...

U.S. gas giant El Paso Corp. will pay $7.7 million U.S. to settle civil and criminal charges that it paid illegal surcharges to Iraq in connection with its purchases of crude, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The report quoted the Securities and Exchange Commission as saying that from June 2001 to June 2002, the Houston natural-gas producer and pipeline firm bought 21.4 million barrels of oil under 15 contracts from third parties who participated in the program.

The SEC said that 25 to 30 cents a barrel was illegally kicked back to Iraq in the form of a secret surcharge, according to the report.

A spokesman for El Paso said that the company is continuing to cooperate with the investigation.