Ecuador breached obligations in Chevron pollution battle - tribunal

08 February 2013 21:05  [Source: ICIS news]

MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--An international tribunal at The Hague has ruled that Ecuador breached the body’s prior rulings by not preventing the attempted enforcement of a controversial $19bn (€14bn) pollution judgement made against Chevron, the Californian-based energy company said on Friday.

The tribunal’s prior rulings had ordered the South American country to “to take all necessary actions to prevent enforcement and recognition of the Lago Agrio judgment", Chevron said.

By failing to block the judgement, Ecuador had failed to meet its international legal and treaty obligations, the company said.

“The tribunal's decision confirms that the enforcement actions being pursued against Chevron in Argentina, Brazil and Canada fly in the face of international law,” said Chevron Vice President Hewitt Pate.

The tribunal warned Ecuador that if Chevron’s case prevails, the country would be responsible for any losses caused by the enforcement of the judgement.

“It is not too late for the republic to reverse course, declare the Lago Agrio judgment illegitimate and address the real challenges facing its citizens,” Pate said.

The legal battle over environmental contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon allegedly caused by Texaco between 1964 and 1992 has been running for two decades. Chevron inherited the case when it bought Texaco in 2001.

The case intensified in February 2011 when an Ecuadorian court found Chevron guilty of the allegations, ordering the company to pay $18.2bn in compensation and clear up costs. The damages were later increased to $19bn.

Chevron rejected the court ruling, claiming it had cleaned up all waste pits before handing operations to Ecuador’s state-owned oil firm, Petroecuador.

Moreover, the company has claimed that the trial has been “marred by fraud”.

In January, Chevron presented a federal district court in Manhattan with what it said was evidence that judges in the case were paid thousands of dollars by the plaintiffs’ lawyers to orchestrate a fraudulent judgement against the company.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Simon West

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