President Kerekou has not been accused of any wrongdoing
A US defence and telecommunications company has agreed to pay $28.5m after admitting bribery in the West African state of Benin.
The Titan corporation was accused of funnelling more than $2m into the 2001 re-election campaign of President Mathieu Kerekou.
At the time, Titan was trying to get a higher price for a telecommunications project in Benin.
There is no suggestion that Mr Kerekou was himself aware of any wrongdoing.
Titan, a California-based company, pleaded guilty to falsifying its accounts and violating US anti-bribery laws.
It agreed to pay $13m in criminal penalties, as well as $15.5m to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC had accused Titan of illegally paying $2.1m to an unnamed agent in Benin claiming ties with President Kerekou.
Some of the money was used to pay for T-shirts with campaign slogans on them ahead of the 2001 election.
Shortly after the poll, which Mr Kerekou won, Benin officials agreed to quadruple Titan's management fee.
Prosecuting attorney Carol Lam said: "All US companies should take note that attempting to bribe foreign officials is criminal conduct and will be appropriately prosecuted."
The company says it no longer tolerates such practices.
Under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it is a crime for American firms to bribe foreign officials.
'Tackle those who offer bribes'
05/03/2005 12:33 - (SA)
London - A commission created by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to evaluate international aid to Africa will recommend that the West double its funding to the world's poorest continent and crack down on its corrupt dictators, media reported Saturday.
The Commission for Africa, which is scheduled to report on its yearlong study on Friday, will join other groups in recommending extra aid, more debt relief and fairer trade for Africa, according to a leaked draft of the commission's final report obtained by British media.
But the panel also will recommend a crackdown on corruption regarding aid to Africa, and demand that banks in the developed world repatriate money pilfered by corrupt African leaders and inform the public about suspicious bank accounts.
"Fighting corruption involves tackling those who offer bribes as well as those who take them," Saturday's Guardian newspaper quoted the commission's 400-page draft report as saying.
"Money and assets stolen from the people of Africa must be repatriated. Western banks must be obliged by law to inform on suspicious accounts. Those who give bribes should be tackled too: foreign companies involved in oil, minerals and other extractive industries must make their payments much more open to public scrutiny. Firms who bribe should be refused export credits."
Like other media, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Guardian was quoting a draft of the commission's report that was obtained by the London-based magazine Africa Confidential.
The commission's final report was to be published on Friday.
Blair hopes to play a leading role in defining the way the West helps solve Africa's many problems, including widespread poverty, conflicts and health crises such as Aids and malaria.
The commission's report could be influential this year because Britain will hold the presidency of the Group of Eight major industrialised nations and host a summit in July.