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The Top 10 Worst Corporations of 2003


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The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

2003 was not a year of garden variety corporate wrongdoing. No, the
sheer variety, reach and intricacy of corporate schemes, scandal and
crimes was spellbinding. Not an easy year to pick the 10 worst
companies, for sure.

But Multinational Monitor magazine cannot be deterred by such
complications. And so, here follows, in alphabetical order, our list for
Multinational Monitor of the 10 worst corporations of 2003.

Bayer: 2003 may be remembered as the year of the headache at Bayer. In
May, the company agreed to plead guilty to a criminal count and pay more
than $250 million to resolve allegations that it denied Medicaid
discounts to which it was entitled. The company was beleaguered with
litigation related to its anti-cholesterol drug Baycol. Bayer pulled the
drug - which has been linked to a sometimes fatal muscle disorder --
from the market, but is facing thousands of suits from patients who
allege they were harmed by the drug. In June, the New York Times
reported on internal company memos which appear to show that the company
continued to promote the drug even as its own analysis had revealed the
dangers of the product. Bayer denies the allegations.

Boeing: In one of the grandest schemes of corporate welfare in recent
memory, Boeing engineered a deal whereby the Pentagon would lease tanker
planes -- 767s that refuel fighter planes in the air -- from Boeing. The
pricetag of $27.6 billion was billions more than the cost of simply
buying the planes. The deal may unravel, though, because the company in
November fired for wrongdoing both the employee that negotiated the
contract for Boeing (the company's chief financial officer), and the
employee that negotiated the contract for the government. How could
Boeing fire a Pentagon employee? Simple. She was no longer a Pentagon
employee. Boeing had hired her shortly after the company clinched the deal.

Brighthouse: A new-agey advertising/consulting/ strategic advice
company, Brighthouse's claim to infamy is its Neurostrategies Institute,
which undertakes research to see how the brain responds to advertising
campaigns. In a cutting-edge effort to extend and sharpen the commercial
reach in ways never previously before possible, the institute is using
MRIs to monitor activity in people's brains triggered by advertisements.

Clear Channel: The radio behemoth Clear Channel specializes in consuming
or squashing locally owned radio stations, imposing a homogenized music
play list on once interesting stations, and offering cultural support
for U.S. imperial adventures. It has also compiled a record of "repeated
law-breaking," according to our colleage Jim Donahue, violating the law
-- including prohibitions on deceptive advertising and on broadcasting
conversations without obtaining permission of the second party to the
conversation -- on 36 separate occasions over the previous three years.

Diebold: A North Canton, Ohio-based company that is one of the largest
U.S. voting machine manufacturers, and an aggressive peddler of its
electronic voting machines, Diebold has managed to demonstrate that it
fails any reasonable test of qualifications for involvement with the
voting process. Its CEO has worked as a major fundraiser for President
George Bush. Computer experts revealed serious flaws in its voting
technology, and activists showed how careless it was with confidential
information. And it threatened lawsuits against activists who published
on the Internet documents from the company showing its failures.

Halliburton: Now the owner of the company which initially drafted plans
for privatization of U.S. military functions -- plans drafted during the
Bush I administration when current Vice President and former Halliburton
CEO Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense -- Halliburton is pulling in
billions in revenues for contract work -- providing logistical support
ranging from oil to food -- in Iraq. Tens of millions, at least, appear
to be overcharges. Some analysts say the charges for oil provision
amount to "highway robbery."

HealthSouth: Fifteen of its top executives have pled guilty in
connection with a multi-billion dollar scheme to defraud investors, the
public and the U.S. government about the company's financial condition.
The founder and CEO of the company that runs a network of outpatient
surgery, diagnostic imagery and rehabilitative healthcare centers,
Richard Scrushy, is fighting the charges. But thanks to the slick
maneuvering of attorney Bob Bennett, it appears the company itself will
get off scot free -- no indictments, no pleas, no fines, no probation.

Inamed: The California-based company sought Food and Drug Administration
approval for silicone breast implants, even though it was not able to
present long-term safety data -- the very thing that led the FDA to
restrict sales of silicone implants a decade ago. In light of what
remains unknown and what is known about the implants' effects --
including painful breast hardening which can lead to deformity, and very
high rupture rates -- the FDA in January 2004 denied Inamed's
application for marketing approval.

Merrill Lynch: This company keeps messing up. Fresh off of a $100
million fine levied because analysts were recommending stocks that they
trashed in private e-mails, the company saw three former execs indicted
for shady dealings with Enron. The company itself managed to escape with
something less than a slap on the wrist -- no prosecution in exchange
for "oversight."

Safeway: One of the largest U.S. grocery chains, Safeway is leading the
charge to demand givebacks from striking and locked out grocery workers
in Southern California. Along with Albertsons and Ralphs (Kroger's),
Safeway's Vons and Pavilion stores are asking employees to start paying
for a major chunk of their health insurance. Under the company's
proposals, workers and their families will lose $4,000 to $6,000 a year
in health insurance benefits.
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member

Who'd have guessed... They wrote the book on it.


TRIBE Member
I only own Safeway (I sold Diebold 2 months ago).

What the hell do you expect Safeway to do? Sit back and watch Wal-Mart put them out of buisness!?!

The real problem is Wal-Mart, not Safeway...that's just plain old dumb and smacks of financial/corporate unsophistication.
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