Natural gas distribution company Nicor Inc. will reportedly pay a $10 million fine to settle charges of deceptive accounting practices brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nicor first announced its accounting problems in July 2002, saying that a subsidiary had accounted for natural gas costs between 2000 and 2002 under a performance-based rate program. Under the program, the company's total supply costs were compared to a benchmark tied to a market index. Any savings or losses in comparison to the benchmark were to have been split between the company and consumers.

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