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Business as Usual in Kazakhstan

HOUSTON (CN) - A Louisiana-based oilfield services company created false documents to cover up its payoffs to corrupt officials in Kazakhstan, the SEC says in Federal Court. Workers for NATCO Group's subsidiary, TEST Automation & Controls, acquiesced to the corrupt demands by "paying extorted immigration fines" from their own pockets, which TEST and NATCO reimbursed, the SEC says.

The SEC says TEST disguised $45,000 in wire transfers, which were reimbursement for employees who paid off a corrupt Kazakh prosecutor, as advances against the employee's bonus.

TEST also submitted phony invoices to Kazakh banks to get money to pay a "consultant" with ties to the Kazakh Ministry of Labor, to get workers' visas, the SEC says.

The SEC wants the NATCO Group fined $65,000 for its violations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Kazakhstan has been ruled by strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev since the Soviet Union collapsed. Western nations, including the United States, have mentioned corruption and human rights abuses in the country, but it has large oil reserves.

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