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.If this had been a Muslim that had sent funds unwittingly to a charity that later supported terrorists in the Middle East, you can bet that person would have been sent straight to Guantanimo.
"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."
Of the 10 company officials with potential liability, those most under scrutiny were former Chiquita chief executive Cyrus Freidheim, former general counsel Robert Olson and former board member Roderick M. Hills, according to sources close to the probe. They and Chiquita had argued that the three men, who had disclosed the "protection money" payments to Justice officials, kept them going while awaiting advice that never came from then-Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff and then-Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson.
Political donations really do pay off!! Pay to play is alive and well in the United States.
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