Greenpeace has sued Dow Chemical, another major chemical company Sasol North America, their public relations firms, and alleged individual employees of Beckett Brown International, claiming the collective went through James Bond-like efforts to dig up reconnaissance on the eco-activist nonprofit.
Dow, Sasol, PR firms Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum Inc., and alleged BBI employees Timothy Ward, Jay Arthur Bly, Michael Mika and George Ferris, engaged in a pattern and practice of clandestine and unlawful activities that has included misappropriation and theft of confidential information and trade secrets, unlawful surveillance, misuse of law enforcement personnel, and, in all likelihood, unlawful breaking and entering into Greenpeace offices and other location, the nonprofit claims in a civil complaint filed on Oct. 7 in D.C. Superior Court.
Dow Chemcial spokesman Greg Baldwin said Dow continues to believe the case totally lacks merit and should have never been filed, ourmidland.com reported.
Trespassing, Phone Taps, Hacking, and Deploying Moles
Greenpeace claims that from 1998 to 2000, the defendants infiltrated Greenpeace and stole confidential information via trespassing, phone taps, hacking, deploying moles to infiltrate the organization and using tactics seemingly out of action-movies with the intention of preempting, blunting, or thwarting its environmental campaigns.
This unlawful scheme was an effort to secure confidential information about, and potentially disrupt, the efforts of Greenpeace and other non-profit organizations and individuals to expose and inform the public and regulators about the chemical companies' activities that were damaging to the environment, the complaint claims.
The complaint echoes a 2010 federal RICO complaint against the chemical companies. A federal judge dismissed the complaint this September, stating the link between Greenpeace's injuries and defendants' alleged racketeering activity is too attenuated to be actionable under RICO.
October's suit claims Dow Chemical paid Ketchum to garner information from Greenpeace's Washington D.C. office at a time when the nonprofit was lambasting the company's production of many products, including dioxin and genetically modified organisms.
The nonprofit also claims Sasol secured Denzenhall's services in finding out information about Greenpeace's operations between 1998 and 2000. At the time, the eco group was scrutinizing Sasol's production of ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride at Lake Charles, La.
Ketchum and Dezenhall are alleged to be the liaisons between the chemical companies and BBI, coordinating the clandestine security firm's efforts in getting information on Greenpeace's work.
Greenpeace claims a 1998 BBI memorandum describes its activities to monitor environmental activist groups, and spent hundreds of hours collecting and analyzing information, according to accounting records.
A James Bond-like Sequence
The alleged methods of data collection, at some points, read like a James Bond sequence: Greenpeace dumpsters were foraged by subcontractors, including a D.C. cop using his badge to access trash otherwise locked away; one BBI employee's girlfriend played lookout while he, dressed in all-black, disappeared with others, returning an hour later with two full trash bags; possibly using a computer program called Data Interception by Remote Transmission (DIRT) to monitor and intercept PC data remotely; and the wiretapping of phones and hacking emails, among other methods.
The Defendants' conduct reflected their understanding that these documents would never have been shared with them, and could only be obtained by clandestine means executed under the cover of darkness, Greenpeace claims.
The suit admits to having some difficulty providing a full picture of the alleged espionage.
Although it is now evident that these unlawful activities continued for years, because of their clandestine nature, and actions by BBI to 'sterilize' its records and destroy documents, the full scope and duration of these activities is not known, the complaint says.
Still, Greenpeace claims to have obtained over 1,000 of their own internal documents that were in BBI's possession.
The nonprofit is seeking punitive damages for the alleged activities.