The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a settled enforcement action charging The Titan Corporation with violating anti-bribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Among other issues, the SEC’s complaint alleges that 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.
Some of the $2 million funnelled to its agent towards the election campaign of Benin’s then incumbent President was used to reimburse Titan’s agent for the purchase of T-shirts adorned with the President’s picture and instructions to vote for him in the upcoming election.
Titan is said to have 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.
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.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Titan consented to the entry of a final judgement permanently enjoining it from future violations of the FCPA and requiring it to pay approximately $28.5 million in connection with these settlements.
The total includes a Department of Justice (DoJ) recommended fine of $13 million, and payments to the SEC consisting of disgorgement of $12.6 million and prejudgement interest of $2.9 million.
“Illicit payments to government officials are inconsistent with fair play and vigorous competition and are a violation of US law,” said Stephen M. Cutler, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Capital formation and corporate enterprise thrive when all parties participate on a level playing field.”