Hitachi Ltd.’s $19 million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission provides insight into how the company became a crucial supplier to South Africa’s behind-schedule power plants that have yet to solve the country’s electricity shortage.

The SEC last week said Hitachi had “inaccurately recorded improper payment” to an arm of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress. Hitachi neither admitted guilt nor denied the allegations, the SEC said in a statement.

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