Punish Dow for bribing Indian officials, say gas victims

THE PIONEER, FEBRUARY 17, 2007
Leaders of four Bhopal gas tragedy survivors and support organisations urged the Government to lodge an FIR against Dow Chemical and its Indian subsidiary Dow Agro Sciences India (earlier DeNocil) for bribes paid by the company. They have also demanded separate enquiries by law enforcement agencies and the Economic Offences Wing of the Government of India into the matter.
Earlier this week, Dow Chemical paid a fine of $325,000 (Rs. 1.43 crore) to US financial regulator Securities Exchange Commission(SEC) for paying $200,000 (Rs. 88 lakhs) in bribes to several Indian Government officials. According to SEC records, a senior official in the Central Insecticides Board received $39,700 (Rs. 16 lakhs) for registering Dow’s pesticides in India between 1996 and 2001. Other State officials received $87,400 (Rs. 38 lakhs) for facilitating distribution and sales of Dow’s pesticides.
Speaking to mediapersons in Bhopal, Satinath Shadangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that the Securities Exchange Commission had found Dow guilty under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He added that Dow Chemical continues to use insecticides like Dursban (Chloropyriphos) that have been banned in the United States.
He also said that there have been several instances in the past when Dow’s dishonest practices in India have been exposed. In 2005, Indian Oil Corporation cancelled a deal with Dow because the company falsely sold Union Carbide technology as its own. Last year, Dow Corning, a joint venture of Dow Chemical, obtained regulatory approval from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board for setting up a factory near Pune despite making false submissions. Dow Corning managed to get permission to operate their factory despite submitting a map of its factory in Elizabethtown in the United States instead of a local site map as under Indian law.
Shadangi also attacked the Prime Minister’s Office and the MP Government and said that they had been turning a blind eye to the activities of Dow Chemical in India.
He criticized the Madhya Pradesh Government’s recent move in the High Court to help Dow evade environmental liability by applying for Rs. 2 crores from the Government of India for disposal of hazardous chemical waste stored inside the Bhopal factory.
In a clarification available on the Dow website, the Company said that the bribe paying in India was unauthorized and action has been taken against employees found guilty. The company also claimed to have strengthened its financial controls to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

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