Submitted by Fenton
An American lawyer working for Chevron brought a suitcase full of cash to a meeting with a former Ecuador judge to coax favorable testimony to help the oil giant evade its $19 billion Ecuador judgment, a recent court filing reveals.
The lawyer, Andres Rivero, brought $20,000 in “money that's in the suitcase” to pay disgraced former Ecuador Judge Alberto Guerra – close to his annual salary before he was removed as a judge – for testimony against the Plaintiffs, as revealed in recordings made by one of Chevron’s covert operatives in Ecuador and attached to a recent motion filed in the U.S. District Court in New York. When asked by Chevron’s henchmen if $20,000 was enough, Guerra replied in the transcript “Couldn’t we add a couple of zeroes to that?” The meeting occurred on July 13, 2012, in Quito.
Lawyers for the Ecuadorians called the payment a "bribe pure and simple" and said Chevron should be investigated for witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
“We’ve always known that Chevron can only bully and bribe its way to favorable testimony but now we have even more undisputed evidence of this malfeasance,” added Pablo Fajardo, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Ecuador. “Ethical corporations don’t send their people to meetings carrying suitcases stuffed with cash.”
The Chevron transcript also corroborates a declaration released earlier this month from Judge Nicolas Zambrano, the author of the $19 billion judgment against Chevron, who declared under oath that Chevron had used Guerra to offer him a $1 million bribe to testify against the indigenous plaintiffs. Chevron operatives told Guerra that “you get yours when a deal is reached with Zambrano” and admit the company has already offered to fly Zambrano to Chicago or Bogota to meet with one of the company's Vice-Presidents or “a very high ranking person from Chevron.”
Chevron has claimed the payments to Guerra were for “expenses” and “protection” but Guerra admits that his ordinary expenses are less than $500 per month, far less than the $10,000 per month and over $326,000 in payments Chevron later agreed to pay for his testimony.
“Guerra is Chevron’s kind of witness,” said Craig Smyser of Houston, attorney for the Ecuadorians in the New York case. “The kind whose only question to the company is: how much will you pay me?”
“Chevron’s lies are coming back to haunt them,” said Fajardo. “This rogue company thinks it can bribe anyone in Ecuador to avoid paying for cleaning up our land but we will hold them accountable for the mess they left behind.”
Tellingly, Guerra admits in a candid moment that even he recently had been made sick by drinking water from a well “polluted with oil” in an area where Chevron has refused to remediate environmental damage caused by its activities.
Further information: Bill Hamilton, 202.641.0350 or Sharon Rose Goldtzvik, 202.789.7753
Backgrounder: Chevron’s Bribery Scheme from the Rivero / Guerra Transcript
Chevron’s Efforts to Bribe Judge Zambrano
Chevron operatives (Lawyer Andres Rivero and unnamed “Investigator #5”) state that the company has “offered for [Judge Zambrano] to come meet in Chicago, or Bogota, or wherever, to meet with a Vice President, with a very high-ranking person from Chevron.
Chevron’s operatives state that they have repeated and increasing “authorizations” from the company to carry out their dealings with Guerra and with Judge Zambrano, i.e. they have authorization to attempt to bribe Guerra and Zambrano
Guerra Confirms Health Effects of Pollution from Site Chevron Says Was Remediated
“It turned out to be the water.”
“Because there’s no drinking water. That area, Sacha, you see, well it’s the biggest, the bet, let’s say, high oil yield.”
So then, it’s polluted.”
“So they [local inhabitants] take water from the well from [sic] they have that system, right? ...they make wells as deep as fifteen to twenty meters. And it’s polluted with oil...”
“It took two months for me to [get better]”
Chevron’s Agents Make It Clear They Represent the Company
“The first question is, do you have doubts, you, Alberto Guerra, personally have doubts that, that we...are speaking for Chevron?”
Guerra replies “No, no, no, no.”
Guerra later says to one of the operatives “You are the, the, you’re practically the, the attorney for the Chevron group.”
Chevron’s Efforts To Use Guerra to Bribe Zambrano
You are a “bridge to Nicolas Zambrano and you [Guerra] get yours when a deal is reached with Zambrano...that is not negotiable with Nicolas Zambrano. The idea is that you get a, some part of the value of that, because we didn’t get to Nicolas Zambrano except through you.”
Guerra replies: “Of course, of course. You assign me...some amount for, for...to negotiate with Zambrano...”
Chevron Offers Wads of Cash in a Suitcase for Information
Guerra and the Chevron operatives discuss the price for the information Guerra is supposed to hand over:
Chevron operative – “That’s what we want to buy from you. You, let’s say, tell us how much, how much.”
Guerra – “Well, how much are you willing?”
Chevron’s operatives state: “We have twenty thousand dollars in the...In hand”; and Guerra replies: “Couldn’t you add a few zeroes?”
Guerra isn’t satisfied with the money being offered, saying “But there’s very little here”, so one of Chevron’s operatives asks “What do we need so that we do [the deal] today, now...”
Chevron operatives: “But, so then let’s do it. Let’s go! This, let’s say, be ready and we’ll make a deal on the way to your house. This is what we have in cash. Between now and afternoon’s end we’ll have managed a little more. How much is it?”
Guerra – “Make it fifty thousand.”
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