In a turbulent world, brand challenges may come from unexpected quarters.
Chiquita Brands International, Inc., owner of the namesake banana label, may be forced to pay more than $780 million, or $18.20 a share, if found complicit in the murders of five American missionaries by Marxist rebels a decade ago in Colombia.
From an earlier New York Times report:
Ed Loyd, a spokesman for Chiquita, which is based in Cincinnati, said payments to FARC [rebels] were made during the 1990s to ensure the safety of Chiquita employees working on banana plantations near the Panamanian border, a former stronghold of the leftist guerrillas.
Later, after FARC was forced out of the region by the right-wing paramilitary force known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, Chiquita continued the practice of paying for protection.
“We always acted to protect the lives of our employees, and the threat was very real,” Mr. Loyd said.
Both the FARC and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia have been designated as terrorist organizations by the United States and Columbia.
The US State Department listing of terrorist organizations.
Some legal perspectives at the WSJ Law Blog.