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The 10 Worst Corporations of 2002

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman


2002 will forever be remembered as the year of corporate crime, the year
even President George Bush embraced the notion of "corporate
responsibility."

While the Bush White House has now downgraded its "corporate
responsibility portal" to a mere link to uninspiring content on the
White House webpage, and although the prospect of war has largely bumped
the issue off the front pages, the cascade of corporate financial and
accounting scandals continues.

We easily could have filled Multinational Monitor's list of the 10 Worst
Corporations of the Year with some of the dozens of companies embroiled
in the financial scandals.

But we decided against that course.

As extraordinary as the financial misconduct has been, we didn't want to
contribute to the perception that corporate wrongdoing in 2002 was
limited to the financial misdeeds arena.

For Multinational Monitor's 10 Worst Corporations of 2002 list, we
included only Andersen from the ranks of the financial criminals and
miscreants. Andersen's assembly line document destruction certainly
merits a place on the list. (Citigroup appears on the list as well, but
primarily for a subsidiary's involvement in predatory lending,
as well as the company's funding of environmentally destructive projects
around the world.)

As for the rest, we present a collection of polluters, dangerous pill
peddlers, modern-day mercenaries, enablers of human rights abuses,
merchants of death, and
beneficiaries of rural destruction and misery.

Multinational Monitor has named Arthur Andersen, British American
Tobacco (BAT), Caterpillar, Citigroup, DynCorp, M&M/Mars, Procter &
Gamble, Schering Plough, Shell and Wyeth as the 10 Worst Corporations of 2001.

Appearing in alphabetical order, the 10 worst are:

Arthur Andersen, for a massive scheme to destroy documents related to
the Enron meltdown. "Tons of paper relating to the Enron audit were
promptly shredded as part of the orchestrated document destruction," a
federal indictment against Andersen alleged. "The shredder at the
Andersen office at the Enron building was used virtually constantly and,
to handle the overload, dozens of large trunks filled with Enron
documents were sent to Andersen's main Houston office to be shredded."
Andersen was convicted for illegal document destruction, effectively
putting the company out of business.

BAT, for operating worldwide programs supposedly designed to prevent
youth smoking but which actually make the practice more attractive to
kids (by suggesting smoking is an adult activity), continuing to deny
the harmful health effects of second-hand smoke, and working to oppose
efforts at the World Health Organization to adopt a strong Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control.

Caterpillar, for selling bulldozers to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF),
which are used as an instrument of war to destroy Palestinian homes and
buildings. The IDF has destroyed more than 7,000 Palestinian homes since
the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, leaving 30,000 people
homeless.

Citigroup, both for its deep involvement in the Enron and other
financial scandals and its predatory lending practices through its
recently acquired subsidiary The Associates. Citigroup paid $215 million
to resolve Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that The Associates
engaged in systematic and widespread deceptive and abusive lending practices.

DynCorp, a controversial private firm which subcontracts military
services with the Defense Department, for flying planes that spray
herbicides on coca crops in Colombia. Farmers on the ground allege that
the herbicides are killing their legal crops, and exposing them to
dangerous toxins.

M&M/Mars, for responding tepidly to revelations about child slaves in
the West African fields where much of the world's cocoa is grown, and
refusing to commit to purchase a modest 5 percent of its product from
Fair Trade providers.

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Folger's coffee and part of the coffee
roaster oligopoly, for failing to take action to address plummeting
coffee bean prices. Low prices have pushed tens of thousands of farmers
in Central America, Ethiopia, Uganda and elsewhere to the edge of
survival, or destroyed their means of livelihood altogether.

Schering Plough, for a series of scandals, most prominently allegation
of repeated failure over recent years to fix problems in manufacturing
dozens of drugs at four of its facilities in New Jersey and Puerto Rico.
Schering paid $500 million to settle the case with the Food and Drug Administration.

Shell Oil, for continuing business as usual as one of the world's
leading environmental violators -- while marketing itself as a socially
and environmentally responsible company.

Wyeth, for using duplicitous means, and without sufficient scientific
proof, to market hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women as a
fountain of youth. Scientific evidence reported in 2002 showed that
long-term HRT actually threatens women's lives, by increasing the risks
of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

What's the lesson to draw from this year's 10 worst list? Not only are
Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco and the rest indicative of a
fundamentally corrupt financial system, they are representative of a
rotten system of corporate dominance.

The full 10 Worst Corporations of 2002 list is available at <http://www.multinationalmonitor.org>.



Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are
co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

This article is posted at: http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/corp-focus/2003/000138.html

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