A Calgary oil and gas company, Niko Resources, has agreed to pay nearly $9.5 million in fines and penalties after admitting in court that it bribed a Bangladeshi government minister.

Niko Resources Ltd. is an oil and gas producer with operations in Southeast Asia.

The firm was charged under Ottawa's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.


A natural gas well blows out at a site operated by Calgary's Niko Resources in Bangladesh in 2005. (YouTube)

Company officials admitted in Federal Court in Calgary on Friday that the firm bribed the Bangladeshi minister in 2005 following a blowout at one of its natural gas fields, a mishap that was creating bad press for the firm.

The company provided a vehicle to Bangladesh's state minister for energy and mineral resources, AKM Mosharraf Hossain, and paid his way to Calgary and New York, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Hossain quit his post on June 18, 2005, as corruption allegations hit the Bangladeshi press.

Around the same time, Canada's then-ambassador David Sproule met to discuss the allegations with Qasim Sharif, who was president of Niko's Bangladeshi subsidiary. According to the documents, Sharif told Sproule "these things are done all the time" and "they give these things in these situations."

"It was clear that at least in the opinion of the president of Niko Bangladesh, the business practice of making payments to ministers was a 'cost of doing business,"' the statement of facts said.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Niko's shares were down $2.37, or almost 3.7 per cent, at $62.55 in afternoon trading on Friday.

Niko operates mostly in India and Bangladesh but also explores and produces natural gas and oil in Pakistan, Kurdistan, Indonesia, Trinidad and Madagascar.

With files from The Canadian Press