Greenpeace sues Sasol over corporate spying

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -A lawsuit filed last week in Washington D.C. in part centers around activities that happened right here in the Lake area in the late 1990's. It's an environmental spying case that is now the subject of a lawsuit by Greenpeace.

It was about two years ago when it came to light that Condea Vista, which is now Sasol, had, in the late nineties, hired spies to collect information on environmental activists and attorneys representing workers in chemical exposure lawsuits. In a sworn deposition, Condea's Peter Markey admitted hiring them. An excerpt from the deposition is between Attorney Perry Sanders and  Markey:  "Attorney: Who knew about it? Markey: Uh, the president. Probably the chief counsel. Attorney: You hired a group from the northeast to go basically infiltrate activist groups that you thought were hostile to the company? Markey: Yes."

Their tactics included digging through garbage, conducting surveillance, somehow obtaining phone records. Local attorney Tom Filo was shocked to find they had records from his office. "A number of the documents that I saw were documents that were not in the trash. They had tax returns that had come out of our manager's office, other documents that I had in my office that would not have been in the trash can."

And he found it shocking to see he was among a list of targets of the spying. Now Greenpeace has filed a lawsuit accusing two chemical plants, their PR companies and others of engaging in clandestine and illegal activities for which the companies paid tens of thousands of dollars. Says Filo, "I think bringing it to light through a lawsuit where it's getting some national press now is probably the best thing."

The suit seeks damages and an order prohibiting such activities in the future.

And Sasol released a statement from their main office in South Africa. Spokesman Jacqui O'Sullivan says ""Sasol North America is analyzing the complaint filed by Greenpeace. The alleged behavior of Espionage relates to time periods ten years or more ago when the company was named Condea Vista."  Sasol acquired Condea Vista in 2001.

If you would like to view a copy of the lawsuit, click here.

Plus additional documents and related news reports are also posted on a web page devoted to the lawsuit.

The page where Greenpeace posted some of what they consider evidence (documents) is here:

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