Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The New York Times reported yesterday that top Blackwater officials approved payment of approximately $1 million in bribes to Iraqi officials to silence their criticism after Blackwater security guards were accused of fatally shooting 17 Iraqis in 2007. If the allegations are proven, the payments are likely to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits corruptly making payments or giving anything of value to foreign officials for the purpose of influencing an act of that foreign official. Blackwater allegedly feared that the Iraqis would refuse to renew Blackwater's operating license in Iraq and force Blackwater to leave the country, jeopardizing its contracts with the U.S. government that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A grand jury in North Carolina, where Blackwater's headquarters are located, is investigating. According to Transparency International, a nonprofit organization that tracks corruption worldwide, Iraq was one of top three most corrupt countries in the world in 2008.