Congressman: Contractor needs bigger fine

Sept. 12, 2012 at 9:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The private U.S. security company formerly known as Blackwater needs to be held accountable and a $7.5 million penalty doesn't cut it, a congressman says.

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said the company, which has been through two name changes and is now known as Academi, should pay more for alleged violations of arms export laws, Politico reported Wednesday. He also said the State and Defense departments should consider barring the company from receiving government contracts.

"This has been a repeated problem that's gone on -- this isn't a one-off situation, and it's not just Blackwater," Tierney said in an interview with Politico. "We've had companies taking millions of dollars from taxpayers, repeatedly making questionable decisions. ... If we don't hold them accountable, then it's going to keep happening."

Blackwater became one of the most notorious military contractors in Iraq. Four of its employees were killed in Fallujah in 2004 when a convoy was ambushed, and in 2007 Blackwater guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad.

The company later changed its name to Xe and then at the end of 2011 to Academi.

The $7.5 million penalty settled accusations that Academi shipped military equipment to Afghanistan and Iraq without authorization and sent encrypted satellite phones to the government of South Sudan.

A spokesman said Academi has nothing in common with Blackwater except "inherited issues."

"Today, Academi is working to become the industry leader in governance, compliance and regulatory matters. It is fair to say -- and important to note -- that the company that was once known as Blackwater simply does not exist anymore in the company that is now Academi," he said.

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