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Prosecute Companies for Their Supply Chain Crimes

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You know, it’s not like the U.S. couldn’t do this too. In fact, we do when it comes to Chinese prison labor in supply chains. But we choose not to generally because we basically don’t care about anything but ensuring cheap clothing and cheap meat and cheap everything.

Prosecutors in Milan are investigating the supply chain of around a dozen more fashion brands, a person with knowledge of the matter said, after a unit of France’s LVMH in Italy was placed under court administration in a worker exploitation probe.

On Monday, a Milan court appointed a commissioner to run an LVMH-owned maker of Dior-branded handbags after an investigation into four of its suppliers based in the surroundings of Italy’s fashion capital uncovered illegal working conditions for staff.

On-site inspections and checks on electricity usage data led prosecutors to allege workers were employed for extended hours, working often into the night and during holidays. Some of the staff slept where they worked, had no regular contracts, with two having illegally immigrated into Italy.

This is the third such decision this year by the Milan court in charge of pre-emptive measures, which in April took similar steps in relation to a company owned by Giorgio Armani due to accusations the fashion group was “culpably failing” to properly oversee its suppliers. Armani Group said at the time it had always sought to “minimise abuses in the supply chain”.

LVMH on Monday declined to comment on the court’s decision.

Milan prosecutors and Italian police are investigating further small manufacturers that supply around a dozen other brands, the person told Reuters, declining to provide additional details because the information is confidential.

The appointment of a special commissioner is intended to give the fashion brands’ subsidiaries time to fix problems in their supply chain while continuing to operate.

Again, I’d hold corporate leaders criminally and financially accountable for what goes on in their supply chains. They control for cost and they control for quality and they lie when they say they can’t control for child labor or unsafe working conditions or pollution. So we have to hold them accountable. And we can. We just don’t really care.

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