New Report Examines Chevron’s Backroom Deals and Open Threats in Ecuador Lawsuit

THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN’S VOICE-29/05/2013

New Report Examines Chevron’s Backroom Deals and Open Threats in Ecuador Lawsuit

Decade-Long Lobbying Campaign to Kill $19 Billion Judgement

Submitted by:Amazon Defense Coalition

 

A new report issued by the Amazon Defense Coalition in the landmark environmental lawsuit between residents of Ecuador’s Amazon rain forest and the oil giant Chevron examines Chevron’s backroom deals and open threats during a multi-year lobbying campaign to kill a $19 billion judgment issued against Chevron by an Ecuadorian court in 2011.

The report, Backroom Deals and Open Threats: Chevron’s Lobbying Efforts on its $19 Billion Ecuador Judgment Revealed, documents Chevron’s strategic manoeuvres to avoid paying the legitimate court judgment by pressuring high-placed Ecuadorian and U.S. government officials to interfere, as well as lobbying the U.S. government to punish the Andean nation by revoking an important trade preference agreement that provides a viable alternative to drug trafficking by granting various Ecuadorian products duty-free status in the U.S.

“Chevron’s sweetheart deals and covert pressure amount to little more than extortion,” said Graham Erion, a coordinating attorney for the plaintiffs. “It’s clear Chevron has decided to do everything it possibly can to fight the rule of law by spending shareholders’ money on high-powered lobbyists to little avail.”

Despite Chevron’s extensive efforts, courts in Argentina have frozen Chevron’s assets and 40 percent of its revenues. A Brazilian enforcement action is pending and filings in other countries will come later this year. A provincial court in Canada recently acknowledged jurisdiction for the Ecuadorians but said Chevron subsidiaries were shielded. That ruling will be appealed.

Analyzed in the new report are multiple documented instances of political interference and Chevron’s attempts to use the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) to punish Ecuador, including:

  • Chevron began in 2003 to lobby high level government officials in Ecuador, including the Attorney General and the Minister of Commerce, to try to get Ecuador to assume the liability for any judgment rendered against Chevron and effectively shut down the case.
  • Chevron’s costly lobbyists backfired when, in 2009, Chevron’s tactics were assailed by roughly 30 Members of Congress who wrote multiple letters to the USTR protesting Chevron’s tactics.

At Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, May 29, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), on behalf of its 1.6 million members, will file a shareholder resolution calling for the company to publish an annual report disclosing its lobbying practices. According to a supporting statement from AFSCME, Chevron spent approximately $22.6 million in 2010 and 2011 on direct federal lobbying in the U.S.; not including funds spent lobbying the Republic of Ecuador or lobbying through organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Chevron is not doing its investors any favors by keeping them in the dark as it throws good money after bad,” said Sonia Kowal, Director of Socially Responsible Investing at Zevin Asset Management. “Shareholders deserve greater transparency and greater accountability. It’s time for Chevron to find a way to stop the bleeding.”

“Chevron’s massive lobbying expenditures and the ongoing fight to avoid the Ecuador judgement will be elephants in the room at the Chevron shareholder meeting next week,” added Erion. “Rather than achieve any benefit to shareholders, Chevron is simply pouring money into a failed strategy.”

Source:CSR wire

Ontario court sides with Chevron in Amazon oil pollution case

An Ontario Superior Court judge has sided with Chevron Corp. and tossed out an attempt by lawyers for Amazonian villagers trying to use Canadian courts to collect on a controversial $19-billion (U.S.) judgment levelled against the company in Ecuador over oil pollution.

The nearly 20-year battle between the Ecuadoreans and Chevron has seen its share of plot twists, including allegations of bribed judges, faked evidence and other wrongdoing made by both sides in U.S. courts and in a long-standing and bitter public-relations battle.

The Ecuadorean ruling, which Chevron has refused to pay, is against Chevron Corp., the San-Ramon, Calif.-based parent company, not Chevron Canada. And Chevron Canada’s assets, the judge said, do not belong directly to its parent. The plaintiffs’ assertions that they were one and the same, he ruled, have “no basis in law or fact.”

Noting that Chevron had pledged to “fight until hell freezes over and then fight it out on the ice,” Justice Brown ruled that allowing the battle between the two sides to take place here would mean “consuming significant time and judicial resources of this court,” even though, his ruling states, Chevron Corp. has no assets in Ontario.

“While Ontario enjoys a bountiful supply of ice for part of each year, Ontario is not the place for that fight,” Justice Brown wrote, suggesting the two sides fight the case somewhere Chevron has assets that could satisfy the massive judgment against it.

Source: The Globe and mail

“Amazon Crude” update

Here is an update on a story 60 Minutes broadcast four years ago called “Amazon Crude.” The report documented the titanic legal battle between people in a remote region of Ecuador’s Amazon jungle and the American oil company, Chevron. The Ecuadorans who sued Chevron allege that Texaco, a company Chevron bought more than a decade ago, contaminated their native rain forest through reckless oil exploration. Two years ago, a single judge in a small Ecuadoran town ruled that Chevron was responsible for $18 billion in damages. Chevron has repeatedly denied the accusations and has appealed to Ecuador’s highest court.

Chevron has also filed a separate lawsuit in a U.S. federal court where it has presented evidence which the company says proves it is the victim of a fraud. As part of that lawsuit, Chevron sued Doug Beltman, the lead scientific expert for the people suing Chevron in Ecuador. Beltman was critical of Texaco’s operations in Ecuador on 60 Minutes. Beltman also stood behind the statements he made to 60 Minutes in a sworn deposition less than two years ago. But earlier this spring in a sworn witness statement, Beltman disavowed his work on the case, and the comments he made to 60 Minutes about Texaco. After Beltman recanted, Chevron agreed to dismiss its legal claims against Beltman and the company where he serves as executive vice president, Stratus Consulting. It’s another unusual twist in a bitter dispute that has lasted 20 years – and counting.

 Source: 60 minutes

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Selvavidasinfronteras.wordpress.com

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Frank Brouwer

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 29 May, 2013.

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