Business

Malicious and false claims made to sully Wisynco brand

By Al Edwards

Sunday, February 02, 2014    

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Local manufacturer Wisynco last week was the target of a malicious and vile social media campaign to denigrate its name and ruin its reputation.

Spurious and unsubstantiated claims were made that its products were laced with Aids-infected blood in an attempt to cause panic and prevent the public from purchasing Wisynco goods.

The Group has made strenuous efforts to reassure the public that all its products are of the highest standard and comply with rigourous hygiene and quality tests and can be safely consumed. Wisynco is conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Justin Felice, who is head of the Financial Investigation Division (FID) said: "I have not heard of this incident but it possibly could be a criminal offence. Wisynco should get its lawyers to write a letter of complaint and send it into DCP Carl Williams on the 8th Floor of the South Tower on Hope Road."

It is not established whether this act was done as corporate sabotage, or by a disgruntled employee or for retaliatory purposes to avenge a perceived wrong or slight.

On Friday, the Constabulary Communication Network issued a news release which read: "The Police are at this moment denying reports on social media that they are investigating reports of contaminated products at Wisynco Group Limited.

"At no time was the police ever called in to investigate any such case at Wisynco. There is also no report on any of our records from anyone about any issue concerning the consumption of any Wisynco products. The attribution to the Police involvement in investigating this rumour is malicious to both the Police and Wisynco."

Former Deputy Police Commissioner and now head of Shields Crime & Security Consultants Limited, Mark Shields said: "If a criminal investigation were to be pursued the burden then becomes establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that this act was committed in order to attempt to deprive the company of money, or to blackmail it, or that violence was threatened, or there was some kind of extortion. There is certainly a case for civil action where the burden is proof is perhaps not so high. It is clearly wrong and actionable to maliciously seek to damage a company's reputation."

Wisynco has been operating in Jamaica for almost fifty years and is one of the stalwarts of the local manufacturing sector. It has the largest warehouse and distribution centre in the country. It produces local brands such as Wata, CranWata Bigga and Boom. It manufacuturers under licence Coca-Cola, Schweppes, and for Dr Pepper the Hawaiian Punch brand.

The Group employees 2,000 employees and is one of the largest taxpayers in Jamaica, re-investing all its profits in the country. It is getting set to make a $1 billion investment in a production and energy operation, which will be a game changer. It is renown for being one of the best sponsors of cultural and social events.

This attempt to malign and discredit Wisynco would jeopardise jobs from one of the largest local employers in Jamaica and one of its best corporate citizens.

Chairman of Wisynco, William Mahfood, speaking with Sunday Finance said: "If there ever were problems with any of our products, services or operations, we would be the first to go to the public, not just through social media but the formal media and be upfront and forthright about what we are being confronted with. We take our obligations to Jamaica and all our customers very seriously."

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