Blog: Dave LeggettHyundai in Colombia

Dave Leggett | 23 May 2007

Well, Hyundai in Colombia has now commented on its alleged 'support' to a paramilitary organisation there. The Hyundai importer in Colombia is now publicly saying that it was blackmailed on one occasion into supplying vehicles after a kidknapping. But that was it. A one-off, Hyundai says.

I'd guess extortion in various forms is fairly commonplace in Colombia and it must be an uphill struggle for the authorities there in trying to end it. I don't suppose many businesses who are victims of such extortion want to report it to anyone. The approach is probably one of keeping the lid on it and viewing it almost like a local insurance or tax - a 'cost of doing business in Colombia'.

Is Hyundai alone in giving in to blackmail? No. And fair play to the company, it has openly admitted that it supplied vehicles in an effort to help secure the release of its kidknapped executive threatened with death. Now isn't that the definition of a caring employer? I think I'd rather work for a firm that quietly paid people off than one that said it's code of ethics prevented it from doing so under any circumstances (such 'codes' are often got around anyway, so that objection would lack credibility and also risk making the firm a target as a 'that's-what-happens-if-you-don't-play-ball' example to others).

However, the catch here of course is that if the pay-offs keep happening, that may encourage the bad people to come back for more and to raise their extortionate demands, potentially endangering even more people in the future. It's a tricky one for firms who operate in risky places.

But if there's a problem locally that is endemic (extortion, corruption in various forms), with the authorities lacking control - or indeed part of the problem - who wants to be the one that takes a 'principled stand' and has a dead ex-employee as a result?

COLOMBIA: Hyundai importer rejects paramilitary support accusations


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