Submitted by: Amazon Defense Coalition - FDA
Posted: Dec 21, 2017 – 12:14 PM EST
NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /CSRwire/ - Chevron endured a “very rough” 2017 in the Ecuador environmental litigation as its scorched-earth campaign to evade complying with a court order that it remediate billions of gallons of toxic waste dumped onto indigenous ancestral lands faltered around the world.
A new analysis published on The Chevron Pit outlined the legal and political setbacks Chevron suffered in 2017 as the affected Amazon communities continued with their effort to seize company assets in Canada to force compliance with the judgment. Chevron had insisted the trial be held in Ecuador and was subject to jurisdiction in the country; Ecuador’s highest court unanimously affirmed the company’s liability in 2013, and set damages at $9.5 billion (now $12 billion with interest).
“There is little doubt Chevron suffered a very rough year in the Ecuador litigation and the prognosis in 2018 is potentially even worse for the company,” said Patricio Salazar, the lead Ecuadorian lawyer on the case.
Chevron’s setbacks in 2017 in the Ecuador litigation, considered one of the world’s most successful corporate accountability campaigns, include:
**In Canada, Chevron suffered a third consecutive unanimous defeat before an appellate court in the attempt by the indigenous peoples to seize company assets to recover their judgment. A panel from the Ontario Court of Appeal found that Chevron illegally tried to impose an exorbitant $1 million costs order on the indigenous groups as a way to end the litigation.
**In Ecuador, the national indigenous federation (CONAIE) signed a political alliance with Canada's national indigenous group (the Assembly of First Nations) -- which represents 634 chiefs and is considered the world's most powerful indigenous federation -- to hold Chevron accountable for its environmental destruction and violations of indigenous rights in both countries.
**Chevron shareholders furious with CEO John Watson's failure to resolve the Ecuador litigation dominated and disrupted the company's annual meeting in May. A resolution citing Watson's "material mishandling" of the Ecuador litigation received a whopping 39% of shareholder support. Watson was pushed into "retirement" a few weeks later.
** Chevron unceremoniously announced that Watson (who is only 62) will be leaving Chevron in early 2018. One reason, according to informed sources familiar with the thinking of Chevron's Board, is that he grossly overspent on the Ecuador litigation with no results to show for it. One Chevron law firm, Gibson Dunn, reportedly charged the company $1 billion in fees. That firm is now under scrutiny for engaging in potential criminal acts on behalf of Chevron.
**Chevron's highly flawed "racketeering" judgment from a severely compromised U.S. trial judge (Lewis A. Kaplan) is now backfiring (see here and here). Evidence emerged that Chevron illegally paid its star witness, Alberto Guerra, at least $2 million in cash and benefits and coached him for 53 days before he presented false testimony. Guerra later admitted under oath that he perjured himself (see this excellent blog by Paul Paz y Mino of Amazon Watch) while a new forensic report demonstrates that Chevron's lawyers fabricated evidence.
**Chevron and some of its executives face a potential criminal probe from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Ecuadorian communities sent a referral letter to the DOJ demanding an investigation to determine whether the company's obstructionist tactics have crossed over into criminality. Worse, it appears that none other than Chevron lobbyist and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was in Ecuador in May to do some dirty work for the company just prior to his arrest in the Mueller investigation.
**The indigenous groups also picked up some key allies during the year. Rex Weyler, the legendary co-founder of Greenpeace, visited the affected area in Ecuador and accused Chevron of committing "ecological crimes" and showing "disrespect" to the communities where it operated. Phil Fontaine, the thrice-elected leader of Canada's national indigenous federation, said it was "unconscionable" that the company has been allowed to get away with its environmental atrocities for so long.
“Chevron has spent huge sums (at least $2 billion on 60 law firms) in an increasingly futile attempt to try to get the impoverished indigenous peoples and farmer communities to "give up" and become obedient subjects of corporate power,” asserted the analysis.
“If 2017 taught us anything about the Ecuador litigation, it is that the affected communities and their supporters will keep coming and coming no matter what massive level of resources CEO Watson throws at them,” it continued.
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