Multinational Monitor

SEP 2001
VOL 22 No. 9


Against the Workers: How IMF and World Bank Policies Undermine Labor Power and Rights
by Vincent Lloyd and Robert Weissman

Privatization Tidal Wave: IMF/World Bank Water Policies and the Price Paid by the Poor
by Sara Grusky

Dubious Development: The World Bank’s Foray Into Private Sector Investment
by Charlie Cray

Big Oil And The Bank: Clear And Present Danger
by Stephen Kretzmann


The Power of Protest: Critics Explain How People Can Affect the IMF and World Bank
interviews with
Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Joanne Carter, and Neil Watkins


Behind the Lines

Toward a New Washington Consensus

The Front
Coke Abuse in Colombia

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Names In the News

Piercing the Polluters’ Veil

Individual corporate officers can be held personally liable for environmental cleanups if they “created a condition or are maintaining a facility or condition that reasonably can be expected to create a source of pollution,” the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in July.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the prevailing view was that only corporations, not their corporate officers, were liable when they were found to have polluted Connecticut’s environment.

“Corporate officers who knowingly make decisions that damage our environment can no longer hide behind their corporations to avoid responsibility,” says Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. “Any responsible corporate officer may be compelled to pay the costs of cleanup. Pollution is caused by people, not just the corporations they manage. The corporate veil will no longer shield them from accountability.”

The Supreme Court decision stems from the appeal of a 1996 Department of Environmental Protection administrative decision which held that the officers of BEC Corporation in West Haven, Irvin A. Shiner and Michael Shiner, were personally liable under the Connecticut Water Pollution Act for cleanup of pollution at the company’s property located in West Haven. BEC operated an oil storage and distribution business at the site, which has had a history of oil spills dating back to the early 1970s.

“In the long term, this decision serves as a warning to all corporations and corporate officers that if their actions cause pollution, or if they are in a position to prevent pollution and fail to do so, they can and will be called to account,” says Blumenthal.

Bayer’s Bullying

Bayer AG has forced a German public interest group, Coordination against BAYER-Dangers (CBG), to remove its homepage from the Internet.

Bayer took legal action in an apparent attempt to protect its trademark.

The CBG had registered the domain name Bayerwatch with the Munich Patent Office, but Bayer filed a lawsuit challenging the name and assessing the cost of the controversy at $115,000.

The non-profit group says it had no other choice but to concede by cancelling the trademark and homepage.

The Patent Office’s copyright investigation had reviewed whether there was any danger of confusion as a result of the copyrighted trademark and had determined that there was none.

CBG says Bayer ignored a recent court decision that declared that a domain name cannot be viewed separately from the contents of a homepage.

“Bayer’s behavior in this issue, which is clearly directed towards the network’s economic ruin, is clearly an attack on democratic principles and freedom of opinion,” says the CBG’s Axel Koehler-Schnura. “The company is obviously afraid of a public discussion and has instead chosen repression and the devastating power of money.”

According to Koehler-Schnura, the association does not want to waste its energy on legal hair-splitting, but instead chooses to continue to publicize the company’s role in causing environmental damage, maintaining worker exploitation and endangering human health throughout the world.

The network’s information and publications (including the English newsletter Keycode Bayer) are at

Grid Stock

A key member of the state regulatory panel that oversees California’s deregulated energy market owns stock worth approximately $1 million in one of the state’s largest power producers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in early August.

The disclosure is the latest in a series of revelations that top state energy officials and government advisers own stock in energy companies doing business in California. Those investments have prompted watchdog groups to raise concerns about possible conflicts of interest.

Bruce Willison, who was appointed to the California Electricity Oversight Board by Governor Gray Davis in January 2000, has 12,052 shares of stock in Enron, according to his Statement of Economic Interests filed earlier this year, the paper reported.

Enron, a $171 billion company, is a major California power supplier that signed a contract earlier this year with the state Department of Water Resources to provide about $7.8 million worth of electricity per week to the state’s grid.

In late July, Davis fired five consultants hired to negotiate power contracts for the state after learning that they held stock in companies that sell power to California, the paper reported. A sixth consultant resigned.

The paper also reported that Davis’ press secretary, Steve Maviglio, owned stock in Calpine Corp., a major state energy company.

William Keese, chairman of the California Energy Commission, also held as much as $500,000 in stocks last year in companies his agency oversaw. Willison had more than 11,000 shares of Enron stock before he became a member of the oversight panel. He acquired an additional 1,002 shares in April 2000.

The Los Angeles Times reported in August that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a preliminary inquiry into whether energy consultants advising Governor Davis used inside information to trade stocks of power companies doing business with the state.

— Russell Mokhiber

Mailing List


Editor's Blog

Archived Issues

Subscribe Online

Donate Online


Send Letter to the Editor

Writers' Guidelines