Multinational Monitor

APR 2002
VOL 23 No. 4


The Cost of Living Richly: Citigroup’s Global Finance and Threats to the Environment
by Ilyse Hogue

Predatory Associates: Citigroup, Predatory Lending and the Credit Crunch for the Poor and Working Class
by Jake Lewis

Servicing Citi’s Interests: GATS and the Bid to Remove Barriers to Financial Firm Globalization
by Antonia Juhasz


Breaking the Brokers’ Sexual Harassment Culture
an interview with
Pamela Martens

Citi: Suing for Silence
an interview with
Al Giordano

Citi's Interests at EPA
an interview with
Hugh Kaufman



Behind the Lines

The Private Government of Citigroup

The Front
Philip Morris' Trade Card

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

Shell Held in Court

Shell must answer in court to charges of complicity with the execution and other human rights violations of indigenous and environmental activists in Nigeria.

A federal court in late February refused to dismiss claims by the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and John Kpuinen, both of whom were hanged by the Nigerian military government in November 1995.

Amidst international protest, the Nigerian military government executed Saro-Wiwa, Kpuinen and seven other Ogoni activists for protesting Shell’s oil drilling in Ogoni and the resultant pollution and human rights violations of the Ogoni people. The Ogoni are a small ethnic group, living in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta.

In Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., the plaintiffs allege that Shell was complicit with the Nigerian government in carrying out the violations of their family members’ human rights. These violations include allegations of crimes against humanity, torture, summary execution and arbitrary detention. The plaintiffs allege that Royal Dutch/Shell worked with Nigerian officials to formulate a campaign against the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), made payments to the Nigerian military, paid for weapons for the Nigerian police and provided materiel to the military. These acts, they charge, make the company complicit in, and liable under U.S. law for, the human rights violations — including the executions — committed by the Nigerian government.

Federal Judge Kimba Wood, presiding in the case, ruled against a motion by Shell to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the oil company was not responsible for the acts committed by the Nigerian government. For the purpose of ruling on the company’s motion for dismissal, the judge ruled, the plaintiffs had shown sufficient ties between the government and the company and, therefore, she denied the motion.

“This ruling means that the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his Ogoni colleagues may yet get some measure of justice for the unlawful executions and other abuses in which Shell was complicit,” says Richard Herz, an attorney with EarthRights International, a non-profit group that is co-counsel in the case. “More broadly, it sends a strong message to other multinational companies that they cannot participate in egregious human rights abuses with impunity.”

CNN Goes Channel One

With AOL Time Warner expected to begin airing advertisements on CNN Student News — a half-hour program shown in about 18,000 schools each schoolday — a broad array of opponents of commercialism has asked the top 50 U.S. advertising agencies not to place commercials or spnsorships on the program.

The program, formerly known as CNN Newsroom, was launched by Ted Turner as a non-commercial enterprise. In 1989, Turner promised, “There will be no advertising whatsoever” on the program.

When advertisements are introduced, the letter to the ad agencies states, “schools and teachers that show CNN Student News will be forcing captive audiences of students to watch commercial advertising during class time.”

“The use of class time for marketing is wrong and indefensible,” it continues. “Class time should be used for teaching and learning — not selling. It is wrong for corporations to deprive students of valuable class time. Nor should taxpayer funds subsidize advertising to schoolchildren. We hope you agree that the education of our nation’s children is far more important than the delivery of commercial messages.”

Organized by Commercial Alert, the letters were signed by Ralph Nader, Consumers Union and Phyllis Schlafly, among others.

The Meat Market

Meatpackers will be banned from owning livestock in the United States, if a U.S. Senate amendment passed in February is enacted into law.

The Senate measure, introduced by Senator Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, and co-sponsored by other farm state senators, aims to end the growing trend of vertical concentration in the livestock markets.

“When packers own their farms and their own livestock, they do not make purchases from farmers who would otherwise be providing economic contributions to our rural communities,” Johnson says.

Family farmers applauded the measure, which was vociferously opposed by meatpacking interests after the Senate passed an earlier version in December.

“Artificial government management of the free market system is bad public policy,” says National Meat Association Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow. “Such control mechanisms substitute election year politics for sound economic policy, which is necessary to produce a safe and abundant food supply.”

However, an analysis of the amendment by a team of academic agricultural economists and lawyers concluded that the amendment is designed to deal with a real problem, and will not harm consumers. “As industry structure consolidates vertically and horizontally, efficiency gains are less likely to be passed on either to farmers or consumers,” wrote the academics in “The Ban on Packer Ownership and Feeding of Livestock,” a paper distributed by Johnson, Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and other supporters of the amendment. “In the last few years, the efficiency gains are arguably negligible because economies of scale and scope can be achieved at much lower volume levels than we see today. Concerns of market power, thus, rise in importance.”


Mailing List


Editor's Blog

Archived Issues

Subscribe Online

Donate Online


Send Letter to the Editor

Writers' Guidelines