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Bilfinger to pay $32 million over U.S. corruption charges

The logo of German industrial services provider Bilfinger is pictured on their headquarters in Mannheim January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Lisi Niesn
The logo of German industrial services provider Bilfinger is pictured on their headquarters in Mannheim January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Lisi Niesn

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - German engineering company Bilfinger SE will pay $32 million to resolve U.S. criminal charges that it bribed Nigerian officials to obtain contracts on a gas project in the African nation, the Justice Department said on Monday.

Prosecutors charged the company with paying more than $6 million in bribes, in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Bilfinger worked with others to inflate the price of a bid by 3 percent to cover the cost of the payments, prosecutors said.

The Justice Department said it agreed to defer the charges for three years and drop them if Bilfinger improves its controls and hires an independent monitor for 18 months to assess the company's compliance.

Bilfinger Chief Executive Roland Koch said the company was pleased to put the events behind it.

"In recent years, Bilfinger has consistently expanded its compliance instruments and today has a modern and efficient system," Koch said in a statement.

Prosecutors previously resolved charges with Bilfinger's collaborator on the bribes, Willbros Group Inc., and with three former Willbros executives or consultants who pleaded guilty. A fourth remains a fugitive.

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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