[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating whether Blackwater [JURIST news archive], now known as Xe, bribed Iraqi officials to allow them to continue operating in the country following shooting deaths in 2007 [JURIST report], the New York Times reported [text] Monday. The fraud division of the DOJ reportedly began an inquiry into the alleged $1 million bribery in late 2009. Bribery of foreign officials is a violation of 15 USC § 78dd-1 [text], a provision of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) [text]. Blackwater will likely claim that the $1 million was restitution [AP report] to the families of the individuals killed in 2007, which would exempt the company from violation of federal law. A conviction under the FCPA may include both criminal and civil penalties.
In December, a federal judge dismissed charges against the five Blackwater employees believed to be responsible for the 2007 shooting deaths, prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to announce that Iraq will file lawsuits against Blackwater [JURIST reports] in both US and Iraqi courts. US Vice-President Joe Biden has said that the DOJ will appeal the dismissal [JURIST report]. Blackwater ceased operations in Baghdad [JURIST report] in May 2009 when its security contracts for the protection of US diplomats expired.