Chris Brook-Carter

Can you smoke without fire?

By: Chris Brook-Carter - 17 February 2004 11:31

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There is no smoke without fire, or so the saying goes. But in this media-led world, dominated by a cynical public who distrust everyone and everything from polticians to big business, has it become too easy to suspect all those who hold power of wrong doing?

The Coca-Cola Company is a case in point. As one of the world's largest US-owned groups, it has become a leading target for all those protesting about all that is wrong with the modern world, from pesticides in soft drinks (India) and coercion against workers (Columbia), to anti-trust business practices (Europe).

It was interesting, then, to see a report in the US press today, quoting several former federal prosecutors on the subject of Coke's current US government investigation into allegations of fraud.

Rather than join an easy bandwagon in condeming Coke before it is found guilty, they suggest the investigaiton will turn up nothing illegal.

"From the things that I've seen, they've done an internal investigation that refuted many of the allegations. If that holds out and proves to be the case, I would expect the government to reach a similar conclusion," said Richard Deane, a former attorney in Atlanta.

Another former federal preosecutor said: "Some people on the street might think that where there's smoke there must be fire, but that may not necessarily be true. The government might ultimately decide there is no fire and there is no basis to bring forth charges."

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