Two subsidiary companies of Oxford University Press (OUP) have been blacklisted from doing business with the World Bank after making “improper” payments to obtain Government contracts to supply text books in Africa.

The ban against Oxford University Press East Africa (OUPEA) and Oxford University Press Tanzania (OUPT) will remain in force for three years. Oxford Publishing, another company wholly owned by OUP, has been ordered by the Serious Fraud Office to pay a £1.85m settlement in recognition of the sums the companies received as a result of unlawful conduct.

In addition OUP will pay a £318,000 fine as a part of a “negotiated resolution” of the unlawful actions which occurred in the two East African countries between 2007 and 2010.

The Serious Fraud Office said in a statement last night: “In 2011, OUP became aware of the possibility of irregular tendering practices involving its education business in East Africa. OUP acted immediately to investigate the matter, instructing independent lawyers and forensic accountants to undertake a detailed investigation.”

OUP chief executive Nigel Portwood said: “OUP is committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards and we have been deeply concerned to discover evidence of wrongdoing in two of our subsidiaries.”

OUP said it will be donating £2m for education in sub-Saharan Africa.