U.S. probes Sinopec over Nigeria bribery allegations

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U.S. authorities are investigating China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. over allegations that the state-controlled oil producer paid Nigerian officials about $100 million worth of bribes to resolve a business dispute, Bloomberg reports.

Investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department are looking into allegations that outside lawyers acting as middlemen for the company, known as Sinopec, funneled illicit payments from its Swiss unit to the Nigerians through banks in New York and California, said two sources, who didn’t want to be named discussing an active investigation.

The alleged payments were intended to resolve a $4 billion dispute between the Chinese oil company’s Addax Petroleum unit in Geneva and the Nigerian government over drilling and other capital costs, tax breaks and a division of royalties between Addax and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the people said. The U.S. probes are in their early stages, and no action is imminent, one of the people said.