Multinational mining company Drummond has sued those who had accused the Alabama-based business of collaborating with paramilitaries guilty of human rights violations in Colombia.
A recently filed lawsuit contends that several lawyers, an advocacy group and a Dutch competitor worked together to extort money from Drummond through their allegations against the company.
Drummond Ltd. was accused of financing paramilitary groups responsible for 2,600 homicides, massacres, forced displacement, and disappearances in the state of Cesar, as was detailed in an investigative report released by the Dutch NGO PAX last year.
The PAX report was based on testimonies of former paramilitary commanders, contractors, and former employees of Drummond as well as other mining companies.
The US Court of Appeals filed the case against Drummond on March 25, declaring it inadmissible without adequate evidence that US executives had made payments to the AUC.
The court concluded in their published report that there was no proof that “the paramilitaries were receiving payments from Drummond,” and determined that “the evidence presented by the plaintiffs did not prove the guilt of the defendants.”
For Drummond to now hit back at those who sued the company over the human rights allegations is no surprise, according to a lawyer representing several of the defendants.
The multinational’s claims – submitted March 27 – allege that its adversaries have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a federal law generally used to combat the mafia.
“Over the span of more than six years, defendants have engaged in a multifaceted criminal campaign to exert pressure upon Drummond in an attempt to damage Drummond’s reputation and business interests and obtain a fraudulent and extortionate financial windfall,” stated the lawsuit.
This idea of false testimony has been a controversy surrounding the company since the PAX report was released.
“It is now known that the defendants paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to these criminals, among other illegal inducements, in order to procure this ‘testimony’,” Drummond states in its lawsuit.
The company specifies the apparent payments to the report contributors and mode of transfer through advocacy groups and law firms in an extensive 85-page chart filed with their case.
Lawyer Terry Collingsworth was a lawyer in three of the lawsuits against Drummond, and is now a defendant in this latest case.
The multinational has long said that former paramilitary commanders contributing to the report had a financial incentive to provide evidence to Collingsworth, as the lawyer pursuing legal action.
According to the company, paramilitaries changed their testimonies to implicate the mining multinational after receiving financial incentives given by Collingsworth to acquire beneficial statements from the paramilitaries in his case.
For example, the deposition given by former paramilitary criminal Charris Castro after he was arrested in 2008 for the murder of two union leaders contained no knowledge of links between paramilitaries and the mining companies.
Drummond asserts that Charris began to change his story after meetings with Collingsworth and subsequent payments from his law firm to his wife, totalling over $38,000.
Colombian attorneys Francisco Ramirez Cuellar and Ivan Alfredo Otero Mendoza are also named as defendants.
Ramirez is accused of attempting to harm Drummond’s relationship with Colombian unions, himself a former president of a mineworkers’ union.
The lawsuit also claims he bribed witnesses for testimony against the company, and has contracted with Collingsworth for contingency fees in three lawsuits against Drummond.
Otero has represented “nearly all of the incarcerated witnesses that claim Drummond had ties to the AUC,” as a defense lawyer, claims Drummond.