Olympic sponsorship row fuelled by new Bhopal revelations
New documents reveal links between Dow and Union Carbide
Today the Independent has reported that it has obtained documents revealing that Dow Chemical sidestepped a trading ban in India after the Bhopal disaster.
According to the paper, the Dow Chemical company secretly traded through a web of intermediaries to avoid a legal ban on selling Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) products in India.
Legal documents obtained by the Independent showed that Dow continued to permit the unlawful practice started by UCC after it bought the company in February 2001.
The ban dated back to 1992 when a ruling by an Indian court prohibited the sale of UCC products without approval in an attempt to compel Union Carbide officials to return to the country to face criminal charges for culpable homicide.
As a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics, Dow's legal duty to compensate Bhopal gas victims and deal with the ongoing environmental disaster has once again grabbed the headlines. The disclosure by the Independent undermines Dow's assurances to Lord Coe, chairman of London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) that the DOW and UCC are 'distinct entities which operate independently'.
However the court documents revealed how in 2001 Dow became central to all aspects of the trading arrangements which included setting prices for the chemicals and other goods sold in India.
The documents emerged in a US court case between intermediary companies and Dow and Union Carbide for violations of anti-trust and breach of contracts which was later settled outside of court.
Campaigners want the Indian government to use the documents to hold Dow liable in an ongoing compensation battle for the gas victims and their families. The case, which challenges the $470m out of court settlement agreed by UCC, its Indian subsidiary UCIL and the Indian government in 1989 will shortly be heard by the Supreme Court.
The Locog and Dow claim that the 1989 settlement was 'full and final' and that Dow had no liability or responsibility for Bhopal, regardless of the ongoing civil and criminal cases in the US and India.
We'll be publishing an Olympic special issue in the summer. Sign up for our email newsletter for details of when it'll be published.
This story has been added to our corporate database. The database powers all our live buyers' guides, giving the score for each company on our rankings tables.