Chiquita Brands International will pay a $25 million fine after admitting it paid terrorists for protection in a region of Colombia. This concludes a United States Justice Department investigation into the Cincinnati OH-based company's financial dealings with right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels.
According to federal prosecutors, Chiquita paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Known by its Spanish initials as the AUC, this right-wing militia has been involved in massacres and cocaine trafficking in Colombia. The United States designated the AUC a terrorist organization in September 2001.
Chiquita made the payments to receive protection for its workers, according to prosecutors. The company also paid the National Liberation Army and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia when control of the firm’s banana-growing area changed. Chiquita’s Colombian banana operations were sold in June 2004.
Under terms of the agreement, the company will pay a fine of $25 million in five annual installments. Chiquita does not anticipate the fine will impact its ability to operate its business.