Archer Daniels Midland recently announced it sold its cocoa business for $1.3 billion on June 11 to Olam International Ltd, an agribusiness company with headquarters in Singapore.
Archer Daniels Midland is one of the world’s largest processors of cocoa liquor, powder and butter with eight factories from Ivory Coast to Singapore, Reuters reports.
This comes as a decade-0ld lawsuit against the agribusiness giant continues.
Archer Daniels Midland is one of three U.S. agribusiness companies facing a lawsuit regarding child labor at cocoa plantations.
Plantation workers filed the case against Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Nestlé in 2005 when the workers were 12 to 14 years old. The case is now headed for a final ruling in the Supreme Court.
The Epoch Times reported on June 2:
In 2005, three Malian nationals who were forced into working on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast filed a class-action lawsuit in a federal court in California. They claimed that the three corporations—through purchasing cocoa harvested by child laborers—”aided and abetted” slavery, child labor, and torture.
According to court documents, the three plaintiffs—identified only as John Does I, II, and III—worked without pay for up to 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. They were only fed scraps of food, and were frequently beaten and whipped by the plantation overseers.
The case was originally dismissed in 2010. The ruling stated corporations could not be sued under the Alien Tort Statute, a law where non-U.S. citizens can file lawsuits in U.S. courts for violating international law.
In September 2014, the federal appeals court reversed the dismissal and found the plaintiffs had cause to argue the case because slavery is illegal. Judges ruled defendants “acted with purpose to support child slavery.”
In a 2013 interview with Bloomberg, a Cargill spokesperson said, “Cargill is concerned about the safety and well-being of children who may be involved in dangerous or forced work on cocoa farms, and we are committed to working towards a cocoa supply chain where no children are subject to these conditions.”