Business

August 9, 2012

Company once known as Blackwater settles arms case

by Michael Biesecker
Associated Press

The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.

Documents unsealed Aug. 7 in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina said the company, now called Academi LLC, agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle 17 violations.

The list of violations includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval and illegally shipping body armor overseas.

Federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents said the company, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, repeatedly flouted U.S. laws.

“Compliance with these laws is critical to the proper conduct of our defense efforts and to international diplomatic relations,” said Thomas G. Walker, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “This prosecution is an important step to ensuring that our corporate citizens comply with these rules in every circumstance.”

Blackwater was founded in 1997 in Moyock, N.C., by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, but the company rose to national attention after winning massive no-bid security contracts from U.S. government at the beginning of the Iraq War.

In 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed two SUVs, killing the four armed Blackwater contractors and hanging their bodies from a bridge. In 2007, Blackwater contractors guarding a U.S. State Department convoy in Baghdad opened fire on civilian vehicles in an intersection, mistakenly thinking they were under attack. Seventeen Iraqis died.

In 2010, the company reached a $42 million settlement with the Department of State as part of a settlement of violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations.

The company changed its name to Xe before being sold in 2011, becoming Academi.

Documents unsealed in federal court Thursday say prosecutors brought 17 criminal charges against Academi following a 5-year investigation.

Under the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, the company acknowledged “responsibility for the conduct” in the 17 alleged violations and settles all charges with the government in exchange for payment of the $7.5 million fine and assurances the company will reform its conduct. The agreement also requires future monitoring and audits for full compliance with federal firearms laws.

In a statement issued immediately after the settlement was made public, however, Academi officials denied they admitted any guilt for what was termed a “legacy matter.”

“The agreement, which does not involve any guilty plea or admit to any violations, reflects the significant and tangible efforts that Academi’s new ownership and leadership team have made,” the statement said. “The company is fully committed to this agreement and looks forward to successfully fulfilling its obligations on this legacy matter as we continue to lead by example in our regulatory and compliance efforts.”

Academi spokesman John Procter later clarified the company’s position.

“There is a distinction between an admission of events taking place and an admission of guilt,” he said.

A clause in Academi’s settlement with prosecutors bars the company from making any public statements “contradicting any aspect” of the agreement. Any such statement could allow the government to nullify the settlement, the agreement says.

Justice Department spokeswoman Robin G. Zier declined to comment Aug. 9 on whether Academi’s media release violated the terms of the settlement.

The first two criminal counts unsealed Aug. 7 allege Blackwater illegally exported encrypted satellite phones to Sudan in 2005. Counts three through six involve numerous arms exporting and trafficking violations, including providing a security services and a threat assessment to Sudan, providing military training to Canadian military and law enforcement personnel without a required U.S. license.

The company is also alleged to have provided technical and engineering data relating to the construction of armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark from 2006 to 2008 without required State Department authorization. In 2004 and 2006, the company exported ammunition and body armor to Iraq and Afghanistan without first obtaining a U.S. government license, according to the documents.

Counts seven through 12 allege violations of various federal firearms laws as the result of the company’s possession of unregistered automatic weapons at its rural North Carolina training facility. Counts 13 through 17 allege involve a Bushmaster M4 carbine, three Glock handguns and a Remington shotgun given as a gift to Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his traveling entourage during a 2005 visit to Moyock.

“For an extended period of time, Academi/Blackwater operated in a manner which demonstrated systemic disregard for U.S. Government laws and regulations,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI. “Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to others that allegations of wrongdoing will be aggressively investigated.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines December 17, 2014

News: U.S. Air Force tanker platform slated for year-end debut - Boeing is planning for first flight of its 767-2C – upon which the U.S. Air Force’s new KC-46 tanker will be based – by year’s end, six months late. Northrop Grumman wins $657.4 million deal to supply drones to South Korea - Northrop Grumman has won...
 
 

NASA launches new Micro-g NExT for undergraduates

NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in a new microgravity activity called Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams. The deadline for proposals is Jan. 28, 2015. Micro-g NExT challenges students to work in teams to design and build prototypes of spacewalking tools to be used by astronauts for spacewalk training in the...
 
 
launch1

Storm fails to quench liftoff of secret reconnaissance satellite

The fiery launch of an Atlas V (541), among the most powerful of the venerable Atlas family, briefly dispelled the gloom over Californiaís Central Coast on the evening of Dec. 12. A team of personnel from United Launch Allianc...
 

 
Coast Guard photograph

Navy demonstrates unmanned helicopter operations aboard Coast Guard cutter

http://static.dvidshub.net/media/video/1412/DOD_102145893/DOD_102145893-512×288-442k.mp4 Coast Guard photograph An MQ-8B Fire Scout UAS is tested off the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf near Los Angeles, Dec. 5 2014. The Coast...
 
 
GPS-OCX

GPS III, OCX successfully demonstrate key satellite command, control capabilities

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon successfully completed the fourth of five planned launch and early orbit exercises to demonstrate new automation capabilities, information assurance and launch readiness of the worldís most powerfu...
 
 

Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully demonstrates 3D printed rocket propulsion system for satellites

Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully completed a hot-fire test of its MPS-120 CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System. The MPS-120 is the first 3D-printed hydrazine integrated propulsion system and is designed to provide propulsion for CubeSats, enabling missions not previously available to these tiny satellites. The project was funded out of the NASA Office of Chief...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>