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Tyson Foods, Inc., last week agreed to pay $5.2 million in penalties to settle U.S. regulators’ claims that its Mexican subsidiary bribed public officials — and court documents in the case show the role Tyson’s executives and in-house lawyers played in what the Justice Department called “sham jobs to hide bribe payments.”

In early 2007, the Springdale, Ark.-based meat-processing company voluntarily reported that Tyson de Mexico (TdM) made improper payments to government veterinarians. According to a criminal information (pdf) filed in federal court, TdM made $90,000 in improper payments between 2004 and 2006 and $260,000 in improper payments in the preceding decade. Prosecutors filed the information in conjunction with a deferred prosecution agreement (pdf).

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