nestlegate: nestle and securitas found liable for illegally infiltrating swiss activist group

by Tim Phillips

On June 12, 2008, a Swiss television channel revealed that activist group ATTAC had been infiltrated in 2003 by a Securitas employee on behalf of Nestle. The specific ATTAC group that had been infiltrated was working on a book about Nestle’s global policies. On September 26, 2008, ATTAC discovered another Securitas spy who was still active in the group that year.

After the television program aired, ATTAC filed criminal and civil cases against the two companies. The criminal case was dropped in 2009, but last Friday a Swiss court rendered its decision in the civil case, finding that Nestle and Securitas had illegally infiltrated the ATTAC workgroup. The court ordered the companies to pay about $3,250 to each of the nine claimants, totaling approximately $29,250.

Activists have often expressed disagreement with Nestle. According to the CorpWatch post discussing the court decision,

The company has frequently been criticized for marketing baby food in poor countries in violation of a 1981 World Health Organization code that regulates the advertising of breast milk substitutes. It has also come under fire from Greenpeace for using palm oil grown on deforested land in Borneo and buying cocoa beans from plantations that used child labor in Cote d’Ivoire…

ATTAC is an international organization that opposes neoliberal globalization. It has branches in roughly 40 countries. The organization’s press release announcing the court decision mentions the importance of fighting “for a just and egalitarian society, to oppose injustice around the world by means of free and independent research into the dealings of transnational corporations, without being surveyed or spied on.”