Saudi Aramco has opened an investigation into claims that a number of its officials were paid bribes from a US company in return for winning contracts with the state-owned oil company.

Tyco International has already paid $26.8m to the US government to settle a case brought against the company under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the terms of the act, charges against an American company can be brought in the US even if alleged corruption happened in another country.

The charges relate to the payment of bribes to several foreign government officials, including Saudi Aramco workers by the Tyco International subsidiary, Tyco Valves & Controls Middle East.