Laying Blame for Murder in the Pursuit of Business


A man samples crude oil at the bank of a polluted river in Ogoniland in Nigeria's delta region. / REUTERS
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a Nigerian case against Shell oil company, one with wide-ranging implications for corporate liability for atrocities overseas.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the “conservative justices said they were inclined to shield multinational corporations … from being sued in this country for torture or other atrocities around the world.”

The case being argued, Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., began in 2002 “when a dozen Nigerians sued the Dutch oil company for aiding the former Nigerian regime, which carried out a campaign against the Ogoni people of the oil-rich delta.”

Numerous people were tortured and killed during the 1990s as part of that campaign, and attorneys for the Nigerian plaintiffs alleged in court arguments Tuesday that the company “jointly operated torture centers with the military dictatorship of Nigeria.”

Attorneys for the Dutch oil company deny the allegations and argue that companies shouldn’t be held liable in U.S. courts at all for violations of international law that happen overseas.

Sweep to Supreme Court appears to back corporations in torture cases 

Former Detroit Treasurer Jeffrey W. Beasley. / ZWERLING, SCHACHTER AND ZWERLING
Federal prosecutors have indicted Detroit’s former treasurer, Jeff Beasley, with six counts of taking bribes and kickbacks to orchestrate dubious investments made with the city’s pension funds.

According to the Detroit News, prosecutors allege Beasley “conspired with others to pocket bribes, including cash, travel, meals, golf clubs, drinks, gambling money, hotel rooms, entertainment, Las Vegas concert tickets, massages, limousine rides and private plane trips.”

In return, Beasley approved more than $200 million in pension fund investments. So far, the News reports, the “city’s pension funds have lost more than $84 million on investments linked to Beasley’s actions.”

Sweep to ‘It just blows my mind,’ a pension board trustee says of kickback probe charges

The Indonesian House of Representatives suspended two lawmakers after they were convicted of accepting bribes related to the suspicious appointment of a senior Bank Indonesia official, the Jakarta Post reports.

The scandal surrounding the bank has now implicated 30 politicians, and the two suspended lawmakers were each sentenced by the Jakarta Corruption Court to 17 months’ in prison.

The House ethics council suspended the two politicians pending their final appeals, and if their convictions are upheld they will be expelled from the Indonesian parliament, the Post reports.

Sweep to Lawmakers suspended for bribery convictions

Aaron Kessler

Aaron Kessler

Aaron Kessler is an award-winning journalist who for nearly a decade has investigated a wide range of subjects from financial crimes by corporations and individuals, to politics and government abuses at the local, state and federal levels, to terrorist financing networks.