United States authorities are not collaborating with Colombian justice in its criminal investigation of (former) executives of Chiquita Brands, the banana company that admitted to have paid US$1.7 million to paramilitary death squads in Colombia.
In an interview with Medellin newspaper El Colombiano, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation says that the U.S. State Department has not responded to calls by Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office to hand over the names, birth dates and social security numbers of the executives.
Colombia started a criminal investigation into the ties between the banana multinational and local death squads after the company settled with U.S. justice and paid a $25 million fine. The Prosecutor General wants the multinational to respond to Colombian justice and pay compensation to victims of paramilitary crimes financed with Chiquita money.
“Through the Prosecutor General’s International Affairs Office, on two occasions we reiterated that they respond to our request for judicial assistance. I don’t know what is happening with the U.S. executives, but one would think there would be an immediate response,” prosecutor Dario Garzon Garzon told the newspaper.
Without the data requested from the U.S., Colombian prosecutors can not call the suspects for questioning and the investigation is pretty much at a standstill.
“The Colombian executives are already being investigated, but they are saying that they were obeying orders from Cincinnati,” Garzon Garzon explained.
This is why the Prosecution “needs to listen to the executives from there to see why they made the decision to give orders to those in Colombia to pay, to hear if they came to some sort of agreement with the AUC.”
The newspaper did not publish a reaction of the U.S. State department.