Ethical Performance
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Chevron maintains Ecuador fine 'illegitimate'

December 2013

A former judge in the Ecuadorian court that ordered the oil company Chevron to pay $19bn (£11.7bn, €13.7bn) pollution compensation has claimed he was given $1,000 a month to ghost-write rulings for the sitting judge.

Alberto Guerra said the lawyer leading the claim case, Steven Donziger, even thanked him for the service at a restaurant meeting in Quito.

Donziger, who denies using any bribery to win the claim, replied that Guerra had requested $500,000 at the meeting. He told a New York court that he refused Guerra’s request. “I would never do that,” he said.

The $19bn judgment was given by the Ecuadorian court to compensate villagers for pollution between 1964 and 1992 from an Amazon jungle oilfield operated by the Texaco group, now merged into Chevron.

The villagers maintain the pollution has triggered many conditions among them, including cancer. Chevron says Texaco restored the land before leaving and blames the contamination on Petroecuador, the state oil company, which took over the oilfield.

Chevron is asking the US District Court in Manhattan to rule that Donziger’s case is fraudulent in order to challenge the Ecuadorians’ right to pursue the award in the US.

The award has now been cut by Ecuador’s highest court to $9.5bn.

Tony Mastro, a Chevron lawyer, backed the bribery claim with a statement to the Manhattan court that bank records revealed that a woman in an organisation affiliated with Donziger placed $1,000 in Guerra’s account.

More evidence of corruption, said Mastro, was that Richard Cabrera, an expert appointed by the Ecuadorian court, worked with the villagers’ legal team.

Joseph Kohn, another lawyer who had represented the villagers, said he withdrew from the lawsuit and renounced his fees after Chevron’s allegations of collusion between the claimants’ legal team and officials in the Ecuadorian court. Donziger called the accusations “completely false”.

In a separate submission Ecuador has asked The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration to dismiss Chevron’s Manhattan case. Chevron responded that the Ecuadorian court ruling is “illegitimate and unenforceable”.

There is no deadline on this case.

Chevron | Global | Corporate governance

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