International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. agreed with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday to examine the accuracy of a past company report in which the firm claimed it made $8.7 million in questionable overseas payments.
In addition, the huge firm - without admitting or denying any past wrongdoing - agreed to obey federal securities laws in the future.
The agreement, approved by U.S. Senior District Judge George L. Hart Jr., apparently ends for now several years of litigation between the SEC and ITT concerning the firm's overseas payments.
An ITT spokesman said the corporation entered the consent agreement in order to bring the matter to an end and "eliminate continuing controversy" about past events.
The SEC had alleged in court papers that ITT had not investigated and disclosed propertly what the firm called its "sensitive payments" overseas.
In an SEC suit, which was released last November after several months' legal resistance by ITT, the government charged the firm with making "millions of dollars" in "illegal, improper, corrupt and questionable payments" to government officials and business customers in Indonesia, Iran the Philippines, Algeria, Nigeria, Mexico, Italy, Turkey and Chile. None of the actual recipients was named, and no exact amount of payoffs was given by the SEC.
The SEC had been questioning the company's internal investigation because, among other reasons, the firm itself said it couldn't get certain documents from its own subsidiaries to check for payoffs.
Yesterday's agreement specifically calls for those documents to be supplied in the reexamination of the company's internal investigation.
One of the main features of yesterday's agreement is the appointment of Yale Law School Dean Harry H. Wellington as "review person" to examine the firm's previous overseas-payment disclosures.
Wellington will review the work previously done by the firm's Special Review Committee concerning overseas payments and work done for that committee by the law firm of Hughes, Hubbard and Reed, the agreement said.
The agreement requires ITT to provide documents to Wellington and to provide him with professional help at the firm's expense if he wants it. He then will prepare a report of his review and investigation, and submit it to ITT, the agreement continues.
If ITT refuses to make the results of that report public, the SEC can reinstate legal action against the firm, according to the consent decree.
The consent decree yesterday was filed in the SEC suit charging illegal overseas payoffs, as well as a separate SEC action asking that the firm be held in contempt for refusing to provide it with documents needed for its original investigation.
Several stockholder suits were filed against the firm after revelation of allegations of overseas payoffs, but those either have been dismissed or have been stayed pending the outcome of court appeals, ITT said.