Multinational Monitor

NOV 2004
VOL 25 No. 11


The Political Economy of Immigration Reform: The Corporate Campaign for a U.S. Guest Worker Program
by David Bacon

Freeloaders: Declining Corporate Tax Payments in the Bush Years
by Robert McIntyre and T.D. Coo Nguyen

Advice and No Dissent: Public Health and the Rigged U.S. Trade Advisory System
by Joseph Brenner and Ellen Schaffer

The Ultimate Dumping Ground: Big Utilities Look to Native Lands to House Nuclear Waste
by Winona LaDuke


Chemical Trespass: The Verdict on Dow
an interview with Jack Doyle


Behind the Lines

Bracing for Four More Years

The Front
Ballot Box Victories - The Development Agenda

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Names In the News

Citi’s Shame

Citigroup’s CEO, Charles Prince, bowed down to the Japanese public in October, apologizing for his company’s misdeeds that led Japanese enforcement officials to close down one of Citigroup’s operating offices.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Prince said he would close Cititrust & Banking Corp., a unit focusing on real-estate and trust-banking businesses.

Compliance problems were found at the subsidiary, which handled trust business for private-banking clients.

Bowing down before reporters for seven seconds, Prince said he was sorry for the problems in Japan.

“We had a breakdown in our compliance and governance standards here in private banking,” Prince said. “I do not believe we have similar breakdowns elsewhere.”

But the evidence did not clearly support Prince’s claim.

As Prince was bowing down in shame in Tokyo, Citigroup was being cited and fined in New York in connection with a separate charge of wrongdoing. In New York, the NASD, the private sector regulator of the securities industry, fined Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. $250,000 for disseminating inappropriate sales literature.

Lead Companies on Trial

In an ominous sign for the paint industry, a Wisconsin appeals court ruled in November that lead paint companies must face a jury trial on the question of whether they posed a public nuisance by selling and promoting lead pigment and lead paint when they knew it to be hazardous.

In more than 40 cases brought against the industry since 1987, no manufacturer of lead paint or pigment has paid a cent in damages.

But the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that NL Industries (formerly National Lead) and Mautz Paint (now owned by Sherwin-Williams), must face a jury trial on whether lead paint posed a public nuisance to the people of Milwaukee.

Charles Moellenberg, a partner at Jones, Day in Pittsburgh and the attorney for Sherwin-Williams, says the decision represented the first time in the history of lead paint litigation that an appellate court has not thrown out a public nuisance theory.

Richard Lewis, a partner at Cohen Milstein in Washington, D.C. and the attorney for the city of Milwaukee, says that childhood lead paint poisoning is a severe public health problem in Milwaukee.

The disease causes irreversible brain damage and learning disorders in young children exposed to lead paint dust.

Lewis says that in 1998, one in five Milwaukee children had blood lead levels testing at or above the Center for Disease Control’s threshold for lead poisoning.

The largest contributing factor to this epidemic is the older housing stock in Milwaukee — much of which is covered in lead paint.

The city has spent millions of dollars in federal money trying to clean up the housing stock and the lawsuit seeks compensation for this abatement from companies that manufactured and sold and promoted lead pigment and lead paint in Milwaukee.

“These companies have never accepted responsibility and have never been held accountable for poisoning thousands of children with their lead pigment and lead paint which they knew to be highly toxic since the early 1900s,” Lewis says. “They try to blame landlords, parents or even the children themselves for their injuries. The court’s decision is a major victory for the children of Milwaukee.”

Moellenberg calls the decision “an aberration.”

“Intact lead paint does not pose a hazard,” Moellenberg says. “The hazard is posed by the property owner who fails to maintain the intact lead paint.”

DuPont’s Deceit

Teflon maker DuPont appears to have violated federal law requiring chemical companies to report new data on the dangers of their products.

The Environmental Working Group in November provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with documents showing that the Teflon maker failed to report new evidence that neighbors of the Parkersburg, West Virginia Teflon plant have Teflon chemicals in their blood at rates many times higher than the U.S. public.

The EPA is currently embroiled in litigation against DuPont for hiding similar health and tap water pollution studies from the agency for 20 years.

“Once again, Teflon maker DuPont has ignored its most basic legal responsibilities to the American public,” says Richard Wiles, senior vice president at EWG. “DuPont is already defending itself in court against EPA charges that it suppressed critical safety information from the communities surrounding its plants. What will it take for DuPont to tell the public everything it knows about the extraordinary dangers of Teflon chemicals?”

The new study, conducted by DuPont consulting firm Exygen, shows that people living near the Teflon plant have amounts of the Teflon chemical known as C8 or PFOA in their blood that are several times the amounts currently found in the American public.

More than 95 percent of the U.S. public has the Teflon chemical in their blood. Decades’ worth of peer-reviewed research shows that Teflon chemicals cause cancer, birth defects and developmental problems in laboratory animals. They never break down and are found in consumer products such as Teflon and other coated cookware, clothing, household cleaners, carpets and other textiles, fast food packaging and more.


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