249. DOJ announces it will not prosecute Chiquita Banana executives for paying off Columbian terrorists
On September 11, 2007, the DOJ announced it would not pursue charges against 3 former corporate officers of Chiquita Banana, its CEO Cyrus Freidheim, general counsel Robert Olson, and board member Roderick Hills for paying $1.7 million in bribes to a Columbian paramilitary group the AUC from 1997 to 2004. The AUC is a rightwing death squad responsible for thousands of murders and is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. The three said they had sought legal advice from then Assistant Attorney General and head of the Criminal Division Michael Chertoff but had received no reply and so had continued the payments. It is unclear what part of bribing a terrorist death squad for 7 years they had difficulty understanding was illegal. The company pled guilty in March 2007 and agreed to pay a $25 million dollar fine and create a corporate integrity program. So to recap, 3 American corporate executives helped fund a terrorist organization for years and the Bush Department of Justice just told them they have no problem with that. Do you think the result would have been the same if these guys had been running a Moslem charity sending money to Hamas?