By Daniel Hunter

Beauty firm Avon has been fined $135m (£87m) by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over bribes given to officials in China.

The SEC said that Avon's Chinese subsidiary paid $8m to officials between 2004 and 2008 to receive a direct selling license.

Avon, the world's biggest direct seller of beauty products, also paid for flights and gave gifts from luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Gucci.

Under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, no business is allowed to give anything or make any payment to foreign officials to retain or obtain business.

Cash, gifts, travel and entertainment were provided to "gain access to Chinese officials implementing and overseeing direct selling regulations", the SEC said.

Avon is also believed to have made the payments to "avoid fines or negative news articles that could have impacted Avon's clean corporate image".

In a statement, Avon said the fine was "in line with the expected terms the company previously reported".

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