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U.S. Appeals Court orders SEC to release Chiquita’s Colombian paramilitary payment files

Produce giant Chiquita Brands International has suffered a potential setback in ongoing litigation surrounding its payments to paramilitary forces in Colombia, in what freedom of information advocates have hailed as a “an important victory for transparency and corporate accountability”. Since 2008, the multinational has sought to prevent the release of 9,257 pages of records submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as part of an investigation into illegal payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The information was requested by the Washington D.C.-based National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as part of a documentation project into U.S.-Colombian links involving narcotics trafficking, drug cartels and paramilitary groups. Chiquita asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of the Columbia Circuit to deny the archive’s request, claiming it would negatively impact the company in multi-district litigation in Florida.  [Full text of court's opinion is here.]

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