Three charged over Coca-Cola thefts

13-07-2006

Three charged over Coca-Cola thefts
Three people have been charged by US prosecutors on suspicion of stealing confidential company information from Coca-Cola and trying to sell it to the soft drink giant's main rival, Pepsi.

Coca-Cola administration worker Joya Williams, 41, was charged with fraud and stealing and selling trade secrets, as were Ibrahim Dimson, 30, and Edmund Duhaney, 43.

The three were arrested on June 27th following a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undercover operation, which was instigated after Pepsi alerted Coca-Cola to their activities.

Federal prosecutors said Pepsi had received a letter in May from someone alleging to be a high-level Coca-Cola employee with "very detailed and confidential information" to trade.

Pepsi subsequently contacted its rival, who informed the FBI of the letter, which was addressed by an individual calling themselves "Dirk".

An undercover agent claims to have subsequently met with Mr Dimson, who was said to be posing as "Dirk". It is alleged that he handed the undercover officer an envelope containing documents and a liquid sample during the June meeting at an Atlanta airport and received money for the information.

Prosecutors claim that the three suspects agreed to sell further information to FBI agents for $1.5 million.

They also say that they are in possession of video footage showing Coca-Cola worker Ms Williams going through files and holding a liquid container with a white label, which resembled the description of a new Coca-Cola product sample, before placing it into her bag.

Responding to the criminal proceedings, Coca-Cola chief executive Neville Isdell said the secret formula for its main product had not been compromised, but stressed that the company would be reviewing its security procedures.

"While this breach of trust is difficult for all of us to accept, it underscores the responsibility we each have to be vigilant in protecting our trade secrets," said Mr Isdell, who expressed his "sincere appreciation" to Pepsi for alerting the company to the fraud.

"We just did what any responsible company would do," said Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco.

"Competition can be fierce, but it also needs to be fair," he added.

Related categories: Management / Business.


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