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South Korean oil suppliers settle US bid-rigging charges

[WASHINGTON] South Korean oil suppliers S-Oil Corp and Hyundai Oilbank have agreed to settle criminal and civil charges of rigging bids to supply fuel to the US military, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

The companies have agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay a total of US$75 million in criminal fines and US$52 million in civil fines, the department said.

The indictment also names seven defendants who allegedly conspired to rig the bids.

The department settled last year with SK Energy; GS Caltex Corp, 50 per cent owned by Chevron; and Hanjin Transportation. They agreed to pay a total of US$236 million in criminal fines and civil damages.

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Reuters had reported in November that the Justice Department believed that S-Oil Corp and Hyundai Oilbank participated in a bid-rigging scheme that led to more than US$100 million in overcharges to the US military.

The South Korea bid-rigging investigation is part of a US Justice Department crackdown on companies that defraud the US government on military contracts.