Nestle found liable for spying

By James Barnes

31 January 2013 at 12:06 BST

Swiss food company Nestlé has been found liable in a civil case over the infiltration of campaigning groups, seriously damaging links with activists the company had been desperate to forge.

Nestlé HQ in Vevey, Switzerland Nestlé

Nestlé – reportedly the world’s biggest food company – has been keen to cultivate relations with NGOs since its clash with activists over the sale of baby milk formula in the 1990s.


But yesterday the KitKat producer – as well as Swiss security company Securitas AG – was ordered to pay compensation following revelations that an infiltrator had attended ‘workgroup’ meetings of Attac, an anti-globalisation campaigner. According to the Financial Times newspaper, some of the meetings took place at members’ homes.
The allegations were first made in 2008 relating to an incident that occurred in five years earlier. The criminal case was dropped in 2009, but the civil case continued. Jean-Luc Genillard, president of the civil court in Lausanne, has now ordered Nestlé and Securitas to pay compensation of SFr3,000 ($3,290) per claimant. The Independent newspaper in London reported the total pay-out as SFr27,000 ($29,600).

Social media

The report cites the rise of social media and rapid dissemination of any wrongdoings as the catalyst to Nestlé’s attempts to address several allegations, ranging from child labour to water saving measures.
A spokesman for Nestlé told the FT that the company would like ‘to reiterate that incitement to infiltration is against Nestlé’s corporate business principles’, adding: ‘We are unable to make any specific comments before the judge’s reasoning is released. If it turns out that a Nestlé employee has acted negligently, we will take appropriate action.’
Attac said it was ‘very satisfied’ that the civil court had condemned the actions of Nestlé and Securitas, adding that the group is ‘continuing to critically observe the worldwide activities of multinational corporations’.


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