Iowa Public Television


Top Banana Working Both Sides of the Fence

posted on March 16, 2007

Chiquita Brands International admitted this week to paying Colombian terrorists for protection in volatile farming regions of the South American country. According to court documents filed this week, the Cincinnati fruit conglomerate paid both leftist gorillas and far-right paramilitary rebels to keep their employees from harm. Payments to United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia alone were about $1.7 million dollars between 1997 and 2004.

In early 2003, Chiquita officials and company lawyers approached the Department of Justice and told them they were paying protection money to rebel groups. For their part, company executives stated the payments were only made with the safety of their employees in mind.

As part of the plea agreement with the DOJ, Chiquita executives will pay $25 million dollars in fines and publicly admit to paying the money. The legal decision resolves a lengthy federal government investigation into the company's financial dealings with Colombian terrorist organizations.

Tags: agriculture bananas money news South America