Ex-Chiquita Execs Won't Face Bribe Charges
By Carol D. Leonnig Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, September 12, 2007; A04
The Justice Department notified Chiquita Brands International yesterday that it will not seek to criminally charge its former top executive and other former high-ranking officers over the company's payment of bribes to a Colombian organization on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.
The multibillion-dollar banana company pleaded guilty earlier this year to making $1.7 million in illegal payments to a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group from 1997 to 2004. Until now, three of its officers were under investigation for authorizing and approving the payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC, after federal prosecutors warned them in April 2003 that such bribes violated the nation's anti-terrorism laws.
"The United States gave serious consideration to bringing additional charges in this matter," prosecutors wrote in a memo filed in court yesterday. "In the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the United States has decided not do so."
Another case of damned if you do, damned if you don't in our critically wounded, broken-down, corrupting, out of date and arcane drug policy.
You want bananas? You want your workers safe, getting to their homes at night? You want your facilities in Colombia to still be there in the morning? You going to hire a private army or pay off the drug-lords?
Tough executive decisions. Offenses against the national 'interests' that may well carry prison time. Another gift that keeps on giving from your federal mommy watching over you.