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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Banana split mars Ecuador poll
Banana
The Noboa banana fortune is worth $1bn
A court in London has been hearing about a bitter family feud over one of the world's biggest banana fortunes.

The case has serious political implications since the defendant is Ecuador's leading presidential candidate, Alvaro Noboa Ponton.

The case has only just got underway in London's High Court.

But Mr Noboa has already been described as ambitious, domineering and having "a lust for power and money".

At the heart of the case is a struggle for control of part of the Noboa family fortune.

Sibling rivalry

In 1997, Mr Noboa and three sisters combined forces to take control of the fruit business from their stepmother.

The four siblings fell out over the management of the business, with the dispute now winding up in court.

Two of Mr Noboa's sisters claim he has broken a promise to hand a fair share of the empire to a third sister with a drugs problem who is currently comatose in a New York hospital.

The case is expected to last several weeks, and Mr Noboa himself may have to interrupt his presidential campaign to give evidence by videolink.

The Noboa banana operations are valued at about $1bn (637m) and is thought be the fourth biggest banana empire in the world.

Alvaro Noboa Ponton is no relation to Ecuador's current president, Gustavo Noboa.

See also:

13 Aug 02 | Health
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