Titan Pleads Guilty to Bribing Foreign Officials

By Leon Worden
Signal Multimedia Editor

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

*MEDIA—MANDATORY CREDIT: The Signal newspaper of Santa Clarita, Calif.

he San Diego-based defense contractor that sent Canyon Country resident John B. Israel to Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 pleaded guilty Tuesday to unrelated charges of bribing government officials in the country of Benin.
    Titan Corp. agreed to pay $28 million to settle the charges, brought by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
    The SEC alleged that from 1999 to 2001, Titan paid more than $3.5 million to the business advisor to the president of Benin and, in 2001, funneled $2 million into the incumbent president's reelection campaign — and then falsified financial reports to cover it up.
    According to the SEC complaint, filed in Washington, D.C., "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."
    Without admitting or denying the SEC allegations, Titan agreed to pay a $13 million criminal penalty and an additional $15.5 million in fees and interest.
    Separately Tuesday in San Diego, Titan pleaded guilty to charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Justice Department's fraud section for violations of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act.
    The company pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the act's anti-bribery provisions; one felony count of falsifying its books and records; and one felony tax violation.
    The SEC is considering additional charges against Titan for telling investors last year that no company official had committed a wrongful act.
    Titan made the representation twice, the SEC said, at the time of a planned takeover by Lockheed. The aerospace giant nixed the takeover when it decided — correctly — that the SEC's bribery allegations weren't going away.
    The $2 billion Titan continues to win federal contracts, most recently a $49.9 million, five-year contract from the U.S. Navy to install shipboard security equipment on Feb. 16.
    Titan specializes in information technology systems and translation services for the military.
    One of its 4,000-plus translators in Iraq in 2003 was SCV resident John Israel. An Army general accused him and three other military intelligence officers and contractors of bearing primary responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. No charges are known to have been filed against Israel.
    Last month, another Titan translator was sentenced to 20 months in prison after he admitted to taking classified documents from the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.