Prosecutors: Banana Company Doing Business With Terrorists

Washington (AP) -- Banana company Chiquita Brands International was charged Wednesday with doing business with a terrorist organization.

Federal prosecutors said the company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers did business with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. The group is described in court documents as a violent right-wing organization that the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization.

The company also did business with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, according to prosecutors.

The payments were approved by senior executives at the Cincinnati-based company, prosecutors wrote in court documents. Corporate books were kept to conceal the deals, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Chiquita began paying the right-wing AUC after a meeting in 1997.

"No later than in or about September 2000, defendant Chiquita's senior executives knew that the corporation was paying AUC and that the AUC was a violent paramilitary organization," prosecutors wrote in Wednesday's court filing.

The document filed by federal prosecutors is known as an information. Unlike an indictment, it is normally worked out through discussions with prosecutors and is followed by a guilty plea. A plea hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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