Representative John Tierney calls on Pentagon to consider banning contracts with N.C. military firm
WASHINGTON -- Representative John Tierney on Tuesday called on the Pentagon to “seriously consider” suspending Academi, the private military firm previously known as Blackwater, after a five-year investigation determined the company had violated arms export controls and federal firearms rules.
Tierney, the ranking member of the subcommittee on National Security of the House Oversight Committee, expressed concern that the North Carolina company remains eligible for future government contracts.
“I am deeply troubled by Academi’s ongoing eligibility for US government contracts given that Academi’s actions have put our national security at risk through what the FBI has described as ‘systemic disregard for US government laws and regulations,’ ” Tierney said.
In August 2010, the company agreed to a $42 million civil settlement with the US State Department after acknowledging violations of arms trafficking laws.
The company was also fined $7.5 million as part of the Justice Department’s probe, which ended last month.
“The settlement with the US attorney is nothing more than a slap on the wrist, an inadequate penalty that sends the wrong message to other government contractors who deal with sensitive national security equipment every day,” Tierney said.
In its investigation, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina found that Academi exported ammunition and body armor to Iraq and Afghanistan without the proper authorization.
It also said the company furnished encrypted satellite phones to the government of South Sudan while attempting to obtain security contracts with the African regime. In addition, the company exported armored helicopters without US clearance.
In a statement to The Globe, an Academi spokesman said the violations occurred from 2003 through 2008 under the company’s previous ownership and management, and that the company has cooperated with federal officials.Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.