The 10 Worst Corporations of 2002
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THE 10 WORST CORPORATIONS OF 2002
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
January 2, 2003
2002 will forever be remembered as the year of corporate crime, the year
even President George Bush embraced the notion of "corporate
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
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
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
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
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;
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