Anger in India as leaked documents reveal that fugitive Union Carbide continues to trade

Anger in India as leaked documents reveal that fugitive Union Carbide continues to trade

Leaked documents and company emails between the management of the Dow Chemical company allegedly reveal that the American corporation is knowingly and willfully engaged in the sale of products produced by it’s wholly owned subsidiary, the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). Since the 1984 gas-disaster at the Union carbide facility in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, UCC management have been wanted on charges of ‘culpable homicide.’ Because of this, the company abandoned their operations in India as they were unable to continue production and trade and were also unwilling to answer their court summons.

This week, The Times of India is reporting that Dow Chemicals has been subverting Indian law and the rulings against their subsidiary Union Carbide by distributing UCC products via separate off-shore companies and also “re-labeling them to subvert the asset attachment orders of Indian courts.”

Union Carbide's toxic waste was left behind in Bhopal, the company is now owned by Dow Chemicals, but no clean-up has ever taken place.

Leaked documents appear to show that Dow has engaged in the sale of UCC products in India and simply labeled them as Dow products. This act of co-operation seems to contradict Dow’s stance that UCC, despite being a subsidiary, is still a separate entity. Critics of Dow have also said it discredits their argument that they can’t be held liable for the continuing Bhopal tragedy because they’re not actively operating with UCC.

The Times reports that Dow Chemical’s has been able to trade UCC products in India and avoided the law by operating via a shady “dummy company” based in Singapore called Mega Visa. The issue has reignited the debate over Dow’s refusal to accept liability in Bhopal despite their continued profiteering from Union Carbide products. Bhopal activists have this week demanded that the corporate veil between the two companies be breached so that the Indian courts can effectively prosecute the American chemical giant.

Leaked Dow emails, published by The Times of India, are embarrassing statements of self-incrimination where officials and managers discuss how they can continue to trade Union Carbide’s products in India despite their status as a corporate outcast and fugitives from the Indian courts.

An email from Graham Fox, Dow Chemical regional General Manager for Middle East & Indian subcontinent to a colleague in India states; “As you will be aware, Union Carbide have not sold directly to India since Bhopal and have used Mega Visa to handle many of their sales of specialty chemicals, some bulk chemicals and wire & cable products. They work across our Dow businesses and have some several million $USD sales revenue as I understand it.”

Another leaked email from a senior official suggests how deeply embedded within Dow the Union Carbide Corporation now is. “Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. UCC will not be issuing any more press releases, product announcements, price increases, etc. All business activities are done under the umbrella of a Dow business. We face the market as Dow. Reporters will be tempted to keep talking about Union Carbide. But we should discourage reporters from using the words Union Carbide…”

Tim Edwards, of the Bhopal Medical Appeal, said the following on the developing scandal: “These documents show that, from 1987 onwards, UCC concocted an elaborate fraud involving third party agents to deliberately disguise the origin of its goods to port authorities, customs officials and end users in India. The fraud was designed to enable UCC to evade court attachment orders intended to compel its appearance in court to face manslaughter and other serious criminal charges arising from the Bhopal disaster… Dow declares to Indian courts that it has no business, assets or personnel in India, and that UCC is an entirely separate company. These documents also demonstrate a clear integration and unity across a range of Dow affiliates worldwide, including India, and show UCC’s purported separateness from Dow to be a self-serving fraud.”

Bhopal activists are arguing that these leaked correspondences are a clear contradiction of Dow’s previous statements that argue Dow can’t be held liable for Union Carbide’s environmental crimes because UCC are independent. The view within Dow seems to be that all of UCC’s operations now fall under the “umbrella” of the Dow Chemical Company and activists are arguing that outstanding liabilities must be dealt with in the same way.

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.