Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm a Chiquita Banana and I'm Here to Slay

In Terrorism-Law Case, Chiquita Points to US
Firm Says It Awaited Justice Dept. Advice

On April 24, 2003, a board member of Chiquita International Brands disclosed to a top official at the Justice Department that the king of the banana trade was evidently breaking the nation’s anti- terrorism laws.

Roderick M. Hills, who had sought the meeting with former law firm colleague Michael
Chertoff, explained that Chiquita was paying “protection money” to a Colombian
paramilitary group on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations.
Hills said he knew that such payments were illegal, according to sources and court records, but said that he needed Chertoff’s advice.
Chertoff, then assistant attorney general and now secretary of homeland security, affirmed that the payments were illegal but said to wait for more feedback, according to five sources familiar with the meeting.
The company has already pleaded guilty to making $1.7 million in payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), and it agreed to pay a $25 million fine.
In the plea agreement, Chiquita officials said they knew that AUC was blamed
for numerous killings and kidnappings in the region

Prosecutors say senior company executives were aware of the designation in 2002, and internal Chiquita records state that the company’s outside legal counsel warned them in February 2003 that they “must stop payments.”
The attorney general of Colombia, Mario Iguaran, and other Colombian officials have
dismissed Chiquita’s assertions that it was a victim of extortion and paid AUC to
protect its workers. An Organization of American States report in 2003 said that
Chiquita participated in smuggling thousands of arms for paramilitaries into the
Northern Uraba region, using docks operated by the company to unload thousands of
Central American assault rifles and ammunition.
What better example of the corruption of the Bush regime can one have?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak