Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Asarco Followup-2

"German Larrea, head of Mexico's largest copper-mining company, took the stand in U.S. District Court here [Brownsville] Tuesday, denying charges that he looted U.S. miner Asarco in order to leave the historic company too indebted to pay for environmental cleanup work across the U.S. Mr. Larrea, chairman of Grupo Mexico SA [GMSA], said that the decision to put Asarco in Bankruptcy in 2005 was a 'low-cost solution' aimed at cleaning up Asarco's outstanding liabilities. Mr. Larrea said he never dreamed the bankruptcy process would drag on for years and said U.S. Chapter 11 law was different than in Mexico. ... If found guilty, [GMSA] could pay penalties exceeding $10 billion, including punitive damages. ... According to U.S. environmentalists and some U.S. regulators, Mr. Larrea's overall strategy was to free his company from Asarco's many legal liabilities, while simultaneously seeking to retain the U.S. Unit's most lucrative copper holdings. In 2003, [GMSA] shifted profitable mining interests owned by Asarco into the Mexican parent's other corpoate holdings", my emphasis, Joel Millman (JM) at the WSJ, 11 June 2008.

JM, wake up. Shouldn't Larrea have left the courtroom in handcuffs? What does the DOJ do? It prosecutes Melvyn Weiss, but lets Larrea walk. This case has striking similarities to US v. Switzer, 257 F2d 139 (1958). What is the DOJ waiting for? I think it can walk into the case with Larrea's "admission against interest". A "low-cost solution", means? What can we expect from a DOJ that thinks a $50 million fine will deter BP from future misconduct? See my 1 and 11 June 2008 posts on Asarco, also 22 November 2007 and 6 January, 29 February, 19 March and 13 May 2008 on BP. This looks like another DOJ orchestrated miscarriage of justice.

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