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A file photo of Edward Sampson, executive chairman of Niko Resources Ltd.

DEBORAH BAIC/GLOBE AND MAIL

Niko Resources Ltd. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profits tumbled, as the embattled oil and gas producer paid a $9.5-million fine for bribing a Bangladeshi official.

Net income for the three months ended March 31 was $649,000 (U.S.), or a penny per share, compared to $38.7-million, or 77 cents per share in the same 2010 period.

Oil and natural gas revenue slipped to $106.2 million from $110.6 million.

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Last week, Calgary-based Niko agreed to pay nearly $9.5-million (Canadian) as punishment for bribing a Bangladeshi state energy minister with access to a luxury vehicle and a trip to New York. The bribes date back to the spring of 2005, when bad press was heaped on Niko for a January explosion at a northeastern Bangladesh natural gas field.

The fine was recorded as an expense for the quarter ended March 31, Niko, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said in a release.

Niko shares were down 2.2 per cent, or $1.37, to $60.03 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Since the bribery charges were revealed last Friday, investors have been punishing Niko's stock, which closed at $64.92 on the eve of the sentencing.

Aside from the fine, Niko, said numerous factors affected the results, notably increased depletion, stock-based compensation and future income tax expense.

For the full year, net income increased to $119.7-million (U.S.) from $118.8-million in 2010. Oil and natural gas revenue was $453.8-million, up from $334.1-million.

Niko develops and produces natural gas and oil in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Trinidad, Pakistan and Madagascar.

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