Fwd: Rats in the Grain

radman resist at best.com
Mon Aug 7 23:43:26 PDT 2000

>Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2000 00:52:34 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Robert Weissman <rob at essential.org>
>Subject: [corp-focus] Rats in the Grain
>Rats in the Grain
>By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
>What is Attorney General Janet Reno trying to hide?
>A lot. In part, that's the nature of being in law enforcement. You don't
>want to tip off the criminal element, so you play things close to the
>vest. The less said the better.
>But in part, Reno is proficient at dodging legitimate questions that have
>nothing to do with ongoing criminal investigations.
>Yes, she has held a weekly press conference since she came into office.
>But despite hundreds of questions that she has fielded over the years at
>her weekly press briefing, she has given few substantive answers. It's
>either "can't talk about that -- it's under investigation" or "get back to
>me later," or one of a dozen or so other put offs that now come naturally
>to the Attorney General. She even smiles when she does this -- and what's
>a reporter to say?
>A couple of weeks ago, we attended Reno's press briefing to ask her about
>a new book -- Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer
>Daniels Midland, The Supermarket to the World, by James Lieber (Four
>Walls, Eight Windows, 2000).
>Lieber, a Pittsburgh-based labor lawyer, documents the federal
>government's criminal case against ADM and some of its top executives for
>The criminal prosecution would never have been launched had it not been
>for Mark Whitacre, the former ADM vice president who agreed to become a
>mole for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and be wired. As a
>result of Whitacre's work, the FBI collected hundreds of hours of video
>and audio tapes documenting executives from around the world fixing the
>price of lysine, a feed additive.
>In October 1996, ADM pled guilty to antitrust crimes and was fined $100
>million. Senior vice presidents Michael Andreas, the son of Chairman
>Dwayne, and Terrence Wilson were convicted of antitrust crimes in 1999
>after a trial in federal court in Chicago. They were sentenced to three
>years in prison each.
>Mark Whitacre was charged with accepting millions of dollars in
>off-the-books payments from ADM -- in effect, stealing from the company.
>Whitacre pled guilty and was packed off to prison for nine years.
>Lieber details the investigation and prosecution of the corporate
>criminals and their executives in what is perhaps the best documented
>corporate crime in recent memory.
>But he also points out that the FBI had much information indicating that
>ADM Chairman Dwayne Andreas and President James Randall knew about
>shenanigans going on throughout the company. Yet, the FBI was not allowed
>to question them -- ADM's highest ranking executives.
>Attorney General Reno, shall we go to page 306? There, Lieber points out
>that in 1996, Dwayne told the Washington Post that he had known about
>Whitacre's off-the-books compensation for three years. Whitacre was only
>fired after ADM learned that he had been working as a mole for the FBI. If
>he knew about it for three years, why didn't he fire Whitacre immediately?
>Or how about page 326, where Lieber points out that ADM board member
>Howard Buffett, son of Omaha multibillion Warren Buffett, told the FBI
>that in July 1995, during the height of the FBI investigation, he saw a
>"tub of shredded documents" outside of Dwayne's office. Yet Dwayne was
>never called to testify about these shredded documents.
>For an attorney general who claims to make decisions based on justice, not
>politics, the failure to interview a big Democratic Party contributor like
>Dwayne Andreas looks bad. FBI agent Anthony D'Angelo told Lieber that
>ADM's law firm, Williams and Connolly, was effectively in charge of the
>investigation from its inception. "Williams & Connolly held a lot of
>power," D'Angelo said. "They basically ran the show."
>So, we go to see Reno at her offices at the Justice Department, where her
>weekly briefing takes place. And we ask about the troubling allegations
>raised by Lieber.
>"I have not read the book, so I couldn't comment."
>Okay, let's put aside the book. You were in charge of the investigation --
>why didn't you have your people call Dwayne Andreas and James Randall in
>for questioning?
>"I won't comment in the context of the book, since you are asking
>questions in the context of the book. I've discovered when questions are
>asked in a specific context, they are often taken out of context."
>We leave the press briefing befuddled, but anxious to get an answer. We
>call the Justice Department's spokesperson on all matters criminal, John
>John, we ask, why didn't the Justice Department at least bring Dwayne in
>for questioning?
>"Williams & Connolly wouldn't let us question him," Russell says dryly.
>What about a subpoena, forcing him to testify?
>"We got the information otherwise," Russell said.
> From where?
>"No comment," he says, as the conversation ends.
>We returned to see Attorney General Reno last week, and asked her if she
>had read Lieber's book yet.
>"I still haven't had time to read it," she said.
>We offered our copy of Rats in the Grain to the Attorney General. She
>refused. "No, I have other matters to attend to," she said.
>But doesn't it trouble you that Randall and Dwayne get a free pass from
>even being questioned on this matter?
>"I have reviewed it and I can't comment," she said.
>It's not easy criminally prosecuting a major American corporation. Hard
>questions have to be answered and deals have to be struck.
>But this apparent deal gave absolute protection to ADM's top two officers,
>when they should at least have been hauled in for some tough questions
>about what they knew and when they knew it.
>The case needs to be reopened -- now.
>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. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The
>Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common
>Courage Press, 1999).
>Focus on the Corporation is a weekly column written by Russell Mokhiber
>and Robert Weissman. Please feel free to forward the column to friends or
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