Sara Lee Corp. has agreed to pay a $725,000 civil penalty to settle charges that it violated federal laws by aiding the Arab boycott of Israel, the government said Friday.

G. Philip Hughes, assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement, said an order signed Friday requires the food and clothing manufacturer to pay the penalty within 20 days.Hughes said it was the second-largest anti-boycott penalty ever collected. On March 22, Safeway Stores Inc. of Oakland, Calif., agreed to pay $995,000 to settle charges stemming from its operation of markets in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Sara Lee agreed to the payment, without admitting or denying guilt, shortly before the scheduled Aug. 1 start of a trial before an administrative law judge.

Following a three-year investigation, the department charged Sara Lee on Nov. 19 with 235 violations carrying a maximum possible penalty of $2.35 million.