Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bigio Family Versus Coca Cola

Coca Cola spokeswoman Crystal Warwell Walker has refused to accept questions relating to its years-long struggle with a Jewish family, the Bigios, who seeking compensation over an anti-Jewish asset seizure that benefited the cola conglomerate.

By way of background, the Bigio family, Egyptian Jews now residing in Canada, owned land and assets for decades in Egypt until they were confiscated and nationalized in the 1960s during the illegal anti-Semitic excesses of the Nasser regime. Those nationalized and confiscated assets were woven into a larger company called the El Nasr Bottling Company or ENBC. Decades later, in 1994, ENBC was sold to Coca-Cola during a privatization move that allowed Coke to reap millions in annual profits.

However, an examination of company correspondence and other documents related to the case by this reporter revealed that Coke officials were amply warned by the Bigios that the cola giant was about to embark upon a multi-million acquisition which included illegally confiscated Jewish assets. Coca-Cola attorneys were in fact negotiating with the Bigios for compensation throughout the first months of 1994 prior to the firm’s sudden $142 million acquisition of ENBC and the Bigio’s assets, corporate documents show. An international lawsuit against Coke by the Bigios ensued and continues to this day.

The Zionist Organization of America took up the Bigio cause in 2007, threatening a boycott and protest. But Coca-Cola officials persuaded ZOA executive director Mort Klein to postpone his protest and allow good faith negotiations to proceed. A year of inaction followed, according to Klein.

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