Chevron presents bribery evidence in $18bn Ecuadorian legal battle

28 January 2013 23:58  [Source: ICIS news]

Chevron presents evidence of bribery in $18bn Ecuadorian legal battle MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--Chevron filed documents with the federal district court in Manhattan on Monday that included allegations of bribery that took place during an $18bn (13bn) lawsuit in which the California-based energy company was found guilty of environmental contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Chevron presented the court with a sworn affidavit from former Ecuadorian judge Alberto Guerra saying that he and another judge were paid thousands of dollars to allow the plaintiffs’ attorneys to write the 188-page judgement against the company.

Previously, an Ecuadorian court had ordered the company to pay $18bn in compensation and clear up costs after it was found guilty of dumping wastewater into rivers.

Chevron later rejected the ruling as illegitimate, claiming it cleaned up all waste pits before handing operations to Ecuador’s state-owned oil firm, Petroecuador, which still operates in the area.

“Another participant in the fraud has now come forward rather than wait to be exposed by others,” said Chevron Vice President Hewitt Pate.

Chevron said that Guerra’s testimony, which it said could be corroborated by documentary evidence, was proof of corruption that had tainted the trial for years.

“Chevron urges additional whistleblowers in Ecuador, the US and elsewhere to come forward,” Pate said. “It is never too late to tell the truth.”

Chevron said that, due to the safety risks facing the ex-judge for coming forward, it has helped Guerra and his family relocate to the US. The company said it has paid Guerra $38,000 in exchange for his assistance but has not given money to compensate for the sworn declaration.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers and representatives hit back at the allegations of bribery, suggesting that Chevron itself was guilty of fraudulent action.

“We have been made aware of evidence that Chevron is offering substantial sums of money to trial judges in Ecuador in return for false testimony,” said Pablo Fajardo, a representative for the prosecution.

“We are in the process of analysing this evidence and investigating further,” he added.

($1 = €0.74)

By: Simon West

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