Chiquita to pay a $25 million fine

by Staff
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CINCINNATI — Chiquita Brands International is paying a $25 million fine as a part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The fine comes in response to the company’s disclosure that it paid off foreign terrorist organizations in Colombia to protect employees.

"The payments made by the company were always motivated by our good faith concern for the safety of our employees," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. "Nevertheless, we recognized — and acted upon — our legal obligation to inform the D.O.J. of this admittedly difficult situation."

The protection payments made by the company’s former banana-producing subsidiary in Colombia were made to right and left-wing paramilitary groups in the South American country, and the company disclosed the action in 2003 after it became aware that these groups were designated as foreign terrorist organizations, Mr. Aguirre said. A U.S. statute outlaws making payments to such organizations.

The $25 million fine may be paid in five annual installments, and Chiquita recorded a reserve last year for the full amount of the fine.

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