) -- A unit of

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

has admitted to illegal anticompetitive activity in the municipal bond market and will pay a total $70 million in penalties, disgorgement of illegal profits and restitution to federal and state agencies.

"GE Funding's former traders entered into illegal agreements to manipulate the bidding process on municipal investment contracts," read a U.S. Justice Department press release quoting Sharis Pozen, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. "This anticompetitive conduct harmed municipalities, as well as taxpayers."

The GE unit, known as GE Funding Capital Market Services, will pay a total of $70.35 million, including $24.9 million to the SEC; $11.2 million to the IRS; $34.25 million to the group of state attorneys general. Of those funds, $54.9 million will be available for distribution to those municipalities and other tax-exempt issuers eligible to recover under the terms of the settlements, according to a GE press release.

"GE is pleased to have resolved this matter," read a company statement, adding "GE remains committed to the highest standards of integrity and compliance across all of its business lines."

The penalties are part of a broad industry investigation that has already resulted in fines and penalties against

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report



(UBS) - Get Report

, and Wachovia, now a unit of

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report



Written by Dan Freed in New York


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