Diageo has agreed to pay out $16m (£9.8m) to settle US claims it paid bribes in a number of Asian markets.

The claims centre on alleged breaches of the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in India, South Korea and Thailand. The company was alleged to have paid millions of dollars to tax officials and other government workers to boost sales and ease local tax bills.

The Guinness and Smirnoff owner confirmed it will now hand back $13.3m to the Securities & Exchange Commission in profits and interest, as well as paying a further $3m punitive charge.

Diageo agreed to “cease and desist from committing any further violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA”, according to a statement from the company.

It added: “Diageo takes the SEC’s findings seriously and regrets this matter. Systems and controls have been enhanced in an effort to prevent the future occurrence of such issues and to reinforce, everywhere the company operates, a culture of compliance and commitment to the principles embodied in Diageo’s code of business conduct.”

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