"If you don't do this job, we'll have to find another way."
– Sam Anson to journalist Mary Cuddehe, whom he was attempting to hire to spy on the plaintiffs in Ecuador
In August 2010, The Atlantic published a bombshell of an article: A journalist named Mary Cuddehe wrote about her experience being recruited by a “risk consulting” company called Kroll to take a “research” job in Ecuador. After being wined and dined in high style by a Kroll recruiter named “Sam” at a posh hotel in Bogotá, Colombia, Cuddehe turned the job down, even though it would pay $20,000 for just six weeks of work.
Shilling for Chevron
Why did she turn the job down? Cuddehe had come to realize Chevron was attempting to use her as a pawn to spy on the plaintiffs in Ecuador. “If I went to Lago Agrio as myself and pretended to write a story, no one would suspect that the starry-eyed young American poking around was actually shilling for Chevron,” she writes.
Cuddehe also reveals that Chevron hired Kroll some time around 2006, when “the company realized it was losing the PR battle, if not the whole war.”
Sam Anson is the Kroll recruiter Cuddehe met with. After giving her an extremely one-sided version of the history of the lawsuit filed by Indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans who are still suffering and dying from the impacts of Chevron’s oil pollution, Anson appears to have laid it on quite thick. He told Cuddehe, “You know you're irreplaceable," in addition to offering her tens of thousands of dollars plus expenses to dig up dirt on the Ecuadorean plaintiffs under the guise of an impartial journalist.
Anson comes from Los Angeles and was once an investigative journalist who also reported on race and hip hop. Now he is a Kroll operative working in Latin America. How he was turned to the dark side and came to work for Kroll is anyone’s guess.
"Questionable If Not Outright Illicit Conduct"
Chevron appears to have given up attempting to debate the facts of the case a long time ago, and is instead relying on a whole host of dirty tricks, like spying, character assassination, and legal bullying, to get out of its responsibility to clean up Ecuador — and Kroll and Sam Anson appear to have been only too happy to step in and help Chevron wage its black ops campaign.
"This is disturbing evidence of questionable if not outright illicit conduct by Chevron and Kroll, possibly subjecting Chevron's lawyers to sanctions or penalty in the U.S.," according to Jonathan Abady, an American lawyer representing the Ecuadorean plaintiffs at the time. "It is hard to imagine Kroll engaging in this conduct alone without oversight from Chevron's lawyers."