According to reports, the lawsuit states that the U.S.-based company – which exports fresh fruit and vegetables from Colombia – supplied “supporting material” including arms and funds to Colombia’s illegally armed groups in the period between 1997 and 2004.
The company is accused of financing the groups, which are categorized as terrorist organizations under U.S. law, in exchange for employee protection in areas controlled by illegally armed or rebel forces.
The lawsuit states that “The defendants intentionally gave supporting material to the FARC, despite knowing they were a foreign terrorist organization … These finances contributed to the committing of crimes, including kidnapping and murder of Americans.”
Chiquita Brands is also accused of advising the FARC to establish front companies in order to disguise illegal funds and channel finances more discreetly to the areas in which they were needed.
The lawsuit claims that the U.S. company made a separate payment to the FARC in exchange for a hostage who had been kidnapped by guerrillas.
The accused have appealed to courts to focus their attentions on the culpability of the Colombian guerrilla organization itself.
Chiquita has previously admitted paying “protection money” to paramilitary groups.