Multinational Monitor

JAN/FEB 2004
VOL 25 No. 1


U’wa Overcome Oxy: How a Small Colombian Indigenous Group and Global Solidarity Movement Defeated an Oil Giant, and the Struggle Ahead
by Atossa Soltani and Kevin Koenig

Controlling Big Tobacco: The Winning Campaign for a Global Tobacco Treaty
by Anna White

Out of Burma: Grassroots Activism Forces Multinationals to End Ties with the Burmese Dictatorship
by Jeff Shaw

Dousing the Flames: Communities Unite Globally to Lock Out the Incinerator Industry
by Monica Wilson

Working to Keep Antibiotics Working: Can the Superbugs Be Stopped?
by Julie Light

Taming the Banking Predators
by Jake Lewis


Taking on Sprawl-Mart: Sprawl-Busting, Community by Community
an Interview with Al Norman

Running Over Citi: Banking Goliath Citigroup Agrees to Environmental Screens
an Interview with Ilyse Hogue


Behind the Lines

Lessons From Winning Campaigns

The Front
Canada Peddling Nuclear - The Sugar Fix

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Book Notes

Names In the News


Names In the News

The Paxil Papers

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline knew that the anti-depressant Paxil (sold under the trade name Seroxat in the UK) could not be proved to work on children in 1998, according to a leaked internal document, the BBC reported in February.

The secret document, relating to two clinical trials held in the 1990s, reveals that drug trials had shown little or no effect on helping depression in minors. The confidential paper, sent anonymously to BBC's Panorama program, reveals that the company was advised to publish only the positive aspects of one study and that there were no plans to publish a second - more negative - study.

The paper also urged GSK not to send the data to regulators because they would have had to include a statement about the effectiveness of the drug.

The purpose of the confidential paper was to "effectively manage the dissemination of these data in order to minimize any potential negative commercial impact."

It was produced by the Central Medical Affairs team, a division within SmithKline Beecham, GSK's predecessor.

Last year, UK government advisers said that Paxil should not be prescribed to children.

"The memo draws an inappropriate conclusion and is not consistent with the facts," says Dr Alistair Benbow, head of European Clinical Psychiatry for GlaxoSmithKline. "All of the safety data was submitted to the U.S. and European regulatory authorities and was publicly presented in a timely way. In fact, safety data from study 329 had already been submitted to the regulatory authorities and had been presented publicly before this document was written."

Halliburton & Bush

Halliburton Co. has hired Bush family confidant James Doty to investigate allegedly corrupt payments made in Nigeria at a time when Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of the company. Doty is lead partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Baker Botts.

Halliburton announced earlier this month that it had hired an outside law firm to conduct an internal investigation into the brewing scandal, but the company refused to name the law firm or the lawyer conducting the inquiry.

That might be because of the law firm's and the lawyer's close ties to the Bush family and administration.

The Baker in Baker Botts is Bush family lawyer James Baker - the lawyer credited with winning Florida for Bush Jr. over Gore - and Secretary of State under the first President Bush.

James Doty represented the current president when he bought the Texas Rangers.

Doty was general counsel to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under Bush I. He was SEC general counsel at a time when the SEC was investigating the current president for insider trading. Doty recused himself from the case, which was eventually closed without action. Bush Jr. was never interviewed.

Doty and Halliburton did not return calls seeking comment.

Halliburton has said that it "has no basis to assume that any of its employees, or employees of the joint venture, has violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

Public interest activists questioned the independence of the Doty investigation. "It's obvious that a firm that already has had a longstanding, close relationship with both the company and top members of the administration is incapable of independently investigating a case that is as complicated and potentially controversial as this one," says Charlie Cray, director of the Center for Corporate Policy in Washington, D.C. Essential Action, a project of Essential Information, Multinational Monitor's publisher, is represented on the steering committee of the Center for Corporate Policy.

Great Scots!

Scotland's highest criminal court ruled for the first time that corporations can be prosecuted for the offense of "culpable homicide."

It has also established a principle of law - wider than the legal test that exists in England - that allows companies to be prosecuted without prosecution of a director or senior manager.

The Court's decision concerned an appeal by Transco PLC against an indictment that charged the company with culpable homicide in connection with the deaths of four people in a gas explosion in Larkhall.

The court ruled that the indictment against the company should be quashed.

"Although this ruling resulted in the quashing of the prosecution of Transco, it does open up the possibility of the Crown office prosecuting more companies for culpable homicide in the future," says David Bergman, director of the Centre for Corporate Accountability in London.

The Scottish decision was issued in June 2003 but only recently published.

In English law, a company can only be prosecuted if there is evidence to show that an individual, deemed to be a "directing and controlling mind" of the company, can be prosecuted. This is known as the "identification doctrine."

In its ruling, however, the Scottish court stated that in Scottish law a "directing mind and will" of the company could include both an individual to whom powers and responsibilities were delegated, and also a "group of persons, such as a committee of the directors, whose delegated powers are to be exercised on a collective basis."

- Russell Mokhiber


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