Monday, September 17, 2007,9:30 PM
Buy Bananas, Aid Terrorists
From BBC news
US banana firm must pay $25m fine
United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) - file picture
Chiquita said it made "protection" payments after threats to staff
A US judge has confirmed a $25m (£12.5m) fine on banana company Chiquita for having given protection money to Colombian paramilitary groups.
In March, Chiquita pleaded guilty to paying $1.7m (£850,000) to the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC).
The firm said its only motive was the safety of its Colombian workers.
It agreed to pay the $25m to resolve an inquiry by the US justice department, a settlement that Judge Royce Lamberth has now authorised.
Prosecutors had said Chiquita Brands International paid the money between 1997 and 2004 to the AUC in return for "protection".
The AUC, which is listed by the US and EU as a terrorist organisation, has carried out massacres and assassinations, although it is now engaged in a peace process in Colombia
Prosecutors said Chiquita also made payments to Colombia's main left-wing rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).
The company's former Colombian subsidiary operated in areas where there was a strong presence of both armed groups.
Chiquita, which has its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, said in March that it would pay the $25m fine as part of a settlement with the department of justice.
A three-year inquiry by US investigators began after Chiquita approached the department in 2003 to say its branch in Colombia had been making the payments after workers were threatened.
Chiquita has since sold the Colombian arm of its business.
Thousands of Colombians have died in four decades of conflict involving the Farc, the AUC and other armed groups.
posted by Julie at 9:30 PM
Thanks for covering this. I posted something about it here: http://leviticustwentyfour22.blogspot.com/
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