updated 8/6/2010 3:27:12 PM ET 2010-08-06T19:27:12

Two American tobacco companies are paying nearly $30 million to settle charges that they bribed foreign officials to get lucrative overseas tobacco sales contracts.

The companies, Universal Corp. of Richmond, Va., and Alliance One International of Morrisville, N.C., faced civil and criminal charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department.

Universal is accused of bribing officials in Thailand, Malawi and Mozambique. Alliance One is accused of bribing officials in Thailand, China, Greece, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Alliance One could not be reached for comment. Universal Corp. said in a statement that the company voluntarily reported the problems to authorities.

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