Koch Accused of Destroying Evidence

THE JOURNAL RECORD, May 19, 1998 | Go to article overview

Koch Accused of Destroying Evidence


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Koch Industries is accused in court papers of destroying 5 million pages of documents and trying to hide evidence that might show whether it stole oil from federal lands.

Attorneys for William Koch said in papers filed with a federal magistrate in Tulsa, that 2,399 boxes of documents were destroyed in 1994 after they had been requested for litigation in that state. Other key records about the operation of the privately held Wichita, Kan.-based petrochemical company also are missing, the attorneys said.

A spokesman for the company, which is run by two of William Koch's brothers and operates a large refinery in Rosemount, Minn., denied any improper conduct. Spokesman Jay Rosser said he could not discuss the specific allegations because of a court gag order in the case but that company lawyers will soon "provide the pertinent facts" to the court. He said that Koch Industries' "guiding principle ... is to conduct all business affairs lawfully and with integrity." If the court finds that Koch took inadequate steps to protect evidence, it could pose a new threat to the company. A criminal investigation is under way into whether employees at its Minnesota refinery intentionally violated anti-pollution laws. A federal grand jury in Texas is investigating the company's conduct related to oil pipeline spills in the Southwest. And a trial is ongoing in federal court in Topeka, Kan., concerning a dispute in which William Koch, his brother Frederick and other former shareholders allege that they were cheated in 1983 when they sold their interests in the company. In Tulsa, U.S. Magistrate Sam Joyner must decide whether to consider the new allegations of document destruction when he rules on William Koch's previous arguments that the company destroyed other records related to the case. …

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