Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Titan Corporation, whose merger with Lockheed Martin Corp. was scuttled in 2004 in part due to questionable foreign payments, agreed to enter a settlement with the SEC and plead guilty to one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related to more than $3.5 million of payments made to the President of Benin's business advisor. The company agreed to disgorge profits approximately $12 million from the transactions obtained through the corrupt payments and to pay a criminal fine of $13 million. The SEC's Litigation Release describes the conduct that violated the FCPA:
The Commission's complaint alleges that, from 1999 to 2001, Titan paid more than $3.5 million to its agent in Benin, Africa, who was known at the time by Titan to be the President of Benin's business advisor. Titan failed to conduct any meaningful due diligence into the background of its agent either before his retention or thereafter and also failed to ensure that the services alleged to be performed by the agent, and described in his invoices, were in fact provided to Titan. The complaint alleges, in 2001, at the direction of at least one former senior Titan officer based in the United States, Titan funneled approximately $2 million, via its agent in Benin, towards the election campaign of Benin's then-incumbent President. The complaint also alleges that some of these funds were used to reimburse Titan's agent for the purchase to T-shirts adorned with the President's picture and instructions to vote for him in the upcoming election. According to the complaint, Titan made these payments to assist the company in its development of a telecommunications project in Benin and to obtain the Benin government's consent to an increase in the percentage of Titan's project management fees for that project. The complaint alleges that a former senior Titan officer directed that these payments be falsely invoiced by the agent as consulting services and that actual payment of the money be broken into smaller increments and spread out over time. The complaint does not allege that the then-incumbent President knew of the payments.
The SEC also issued a Section 21(a) Report of Investigation criticizing Titan for not properly disclosing the FCPA violations as part of the disclosure related to the proposed merger with Lockheed Martin.(ph)