Dole Food Co. Inc. rejects claims it funded a terrorist group that allegedly committed illegal acts so that Dole could grow bananas in Colombia.

The claims were made in a lawsuit filed April 28 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Dole is accused of funding a paramilitary group known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia, or AUC.

Dole Food Co. denies claims it paid terrorists
In a news release, officials of Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole say the company "categorically rejects" all of the allegations, which they say are based on the false confessions of convicted Colombian terrorists looking to reduce their jail sentences.

In a news release, officials of Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole said the company "categorically rejects" all of the allegations, which they said are based on the false confessions of convicted Colombian terrorists looking to reduce their jail sentences.

"These terrorists have every reason to lie by making false allegations against international companies like Dole in order to minimize their own culpability and reduce their jail time," C. Michael Carter, Dole's executive vice president and general counsel, said in the release. "This lawsuit is irresponsible and the allegations are blatantly false."

Dole is not the first banana company to have such claims filed against it.

In 2007, a lawsuit was filed in New York seeking $7.9 billion in damages from Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. for its alleged dealings with the AUC.

Also in 2007, Chiquita, in a plea agreement, agreed to pay a $25 million fine to settle a suit alleging that its Colombian subsidiary, Banadex, paid $1.7 million to the AUC between 1997 and 2004.