NEW YORK – Seven oil-services and freight companies will settle bribery charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a total of more than $236 million, the agency said Thursday.

The SEC charged Panalpina Inc., Pride International Inc., Tidewater Inc., Transocean Inc., GlobalSantaFe Corp., Noble Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC with bribing officials in 10 countries for favorable customs treatment and contracts.

Most of the companies agreed to settle without admitting or denying the allegations.

The probe, which focused on bribery and other violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, centered on Panalpina World Transport (Holding) Ltd., a global freight-forwarding firm based in Basel, Switzerland, and its U.S. unit, Panalpina Inc.

The company admitted that it and its oil and gas industry customers, including units of Royal Dutch Shell, Transocean and Tidewater, paid at least $27 million between 2002 and 2007 to foreign officials in at least seven countries.

“They did so in order to circumvent local rules and regulations relating to the import of goods and materials into numerous foreign jurisdictions,” according to a U.S. Justice Department statement.

Panalpina agreed to plead guilty to charges stemming from alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The agreements require the company to pay a $70.56 million criminal penalty, officials said.

Transocean Inc. and Shell entered into deferred prosecution agreements under which Shell pays a $30 million criminal penalty and Transocean pays a $13.4 million criminal penalty.

Criminal penalties were assessed against Pride International for $32.6 million, Noble Corp. for $2.6 million and Tidewater Marine for $7.35 million.