United Cacao loses libel case against ConfectioneryNews

French court dismisses libel action brought by United Cacao. ©iStock/tomloel

A Cayman Islands-registered company allegedly tied to deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon has lost a libel case against ConfectioneryNews and its publisher.

The first-degree tribunal of Paris ruled in ConfectioneryNews’ favor on November 30, 2016.

The Court of Appeal in Paris said on April 4, 2017, the period for appeal had expired.

Allegations of deforestation

United Cacao Limited SEZC – a company aiming to create the world’s largest pure-play cocoa plantation in Tamshiyacu, Peru – accused ConfectioneryNews’ publisher William Reed, its managing director and journalist Oliver Nieburg of defamation for two articles published in early 2015.

The article ‘Did United Cacao destroy Amazon rainforest to clear path for world’s largest cocoa plantation?’ presented interviews with local residents and NGOs alleging United Cacao and its subsidiary Cacao del Peru Norte SAC cleared primary Amazonian Rainforest to make way for its cocoa estate.

The article ‘United Cacao continues infrastructure work despite injunction, claims NGO’ detailed images taken by local NGO Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo (SPDE) purporting to show United Cacao working its land in breach of a suspension order from the Peruvian government.

‘Justified’ by good faith

The Paris tribunal said ConfectioneryNews’ reports were justified as they were made in good faith and pursued a legitimate aim.

The court ordered United Cacao to pay costs.

In January this year, United Cacao secured close to $700,000 of new capital, but was automatically delisted from the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange AIM on February 6, 2017.

Over 60 indigenous organizations and NGOs from Peru, Europe, and the United States called for United Cacao’s removal from the AIM in May last year alleging “illegal clear-cutting of Peruvian rainforests”.

United Cacao said in a press release on February 6 this year: “The Board continues to work to secure further funding to address its constrained financial situation and there is no assurance that such further financing will be raised to meet the company's on­going liabilities.”

United Cacao’s former chairman and CEO Denis Melka resigned from the company on January 4 this year, a day after the company’s directors sought “immediate termination” of his employment.

The company’s website is no longer active.

Related News

Poverty reduction key to curbing deforestation in West Africa: WCF president. ©iStock/M_D_A

Big 12 cocoa and chocolate players pledge to end deforestation in cocoa

Cocoa yields have already halved for some farmers, spelling future shortages for the chocolate industry, warns Rainforest Alliance. Photo: iStock - f9photos

‘Devastating’ impact of climate change on cocoa can’t be ignored, says Rainforest Alliance

Farmers need financing to rehabilitate aging cocoa plantations or will be forced to chop down forests

Chop, chop: Cocoa dependents must finance farm training before more forests are axed

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.