Double Trouble: Chevron’s Ecuador Gameplan Slowly Unravels

posted by Rainforest Action Network

Crossposted from Daily Kos

In the last two days Chevron has been hit with two developments that will surely produce lasting doubts to the legality and authenticity of Chevron’s actions in what is being called the world’s largest environmental lawsuit. Chevron has been involved in the $27.3 billion for the last 17 years. The breathtaking figure represents the expensive pollution counting for over 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste and 15 million gallons of crude oil left in the Amazon rainforest. Chevron has vehemently denied responsibility, claiming high cancer rates and polluted drinking water is due to “poor sanitation.” However Chevron cannot, and as of yesterday now refuses to, backup any such claim.

Yesterday Chevron was provided with the opportunity to submit to the court its own damages assessment. (Presumably to argue any discrepancies they found in the original damages assessment compiled by the court appointed expert.) Chevron in turn rejected the opportunity. A peculiar move considering Chevron has spent the last two years attacking the submission of independent damages assessment. The original assessment contained over 105 expert reports and more than 64,000 samples, many of which came from Chevron’s own team. This latest maneuver by Chevron has many in the legal and human rights world scratching their heads. However for those close to the lawsuit this latest development is seen as another indicator that Chevron is solely interested delaying the trial rather than letting the courts rule on the extent of their liability.

“We predict that Chevron’s bad faith will be on full display yet again,” said Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the Amazonian communities. “Chevron complained that it did not have an opportunity to produce its own damages assessment. But when given the opportunity, company lawyers accuse the judge of bias against Chevron and launch attacks on the justice system.” Fajardo said the Amazonian communities would submit their own damages assessment prepared by a team of scientific and medical experts to the court today.”

The new damages report submission, comes a day after another major dilemma for Chevron’s defense in Ecuador. On Wednesday a Federal Judge ordered Diego Borja, a spy video operative and former Chevron employee, to appear for a deposition in San Francisco next week.

The deposition is in regards to Borja’s involvement with Chevron in a potentially illegal entrapment scheme. Borja became a lightning rod of controversy in the lawsuit after partnering with a former drug runner and secretly videotaping themselves having conversations with the judge presiding over the trial. The videotape as been a key piece of evidence for the defendants and human rights activists claiming the Chevron continues to attempt to undermine the rule of law in Ecuador with “dirty tricks”.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen says “that Mr. Borja was not an innocent third party who just happened to learn of the alleged bribery scheme but rather was a long-time associate of Chevron whom Chevron would pay for any favorable testimony.”

Chevron has denied any association with Borja, however an investigation uncovered that Chevron had arranged for his relocation from Ecuador to a $6000 a month Northern California townhouse, and is currently providing him legal counsel. Diego Borja’s deposition is scheduled for October 1st, pending any objections from Chevron.