Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chevron Paying Whistleblower Diego Borja to Keep Quiet About Evidence Tampering

Several weeks ago, the indigenous and farmer communities revealed new information that Chevron "cooked" evidence in the Lago Agrio trial in order to avoid a judgment in the long-running lawsuit – and that the oil company was providing financial support to whistleblower Diego Borja to prevent him from going public with the company's fraud. Among Chevron's gross misdeeds in Ecuador, according to Borja: the oil giant directed Borja to create dummy companies in Ecuador to make it appear that a laboratory Chevron used to process soil and water samples during the environmental trial was independent, when in fact it was controlled by the company.

The Plaintiffs have long contended that Chevron was intentionally and fraudulently using bogus lab testing procedures to artificially lower the amount of contamination reported to the Court.

Borja, an Ecuadorian who was responsible for handling soil and water samples for Chevron during the environmental trial, was captured on audiotapes provided by childhood friend Santiago Escobar as saying Chevron "cooked" the evidence in the trial, and that he [Borja] has "correspondence about things you can't even imagine, dude….I can't talk about them here, dude, because I'm afraid, but they're things that can make the Amazons win this just like that (snapping his fingers)." (Click here for more information. See Transcript 4, October 1, 2009 p. 3, 7-9)

Borja was quoted demanding a "business partner(ship)" with Chevron that would pay off "like a big brass ring" in exchange for not turning over the evidence to the authorities. (See Transcript 2, October 1, 2009, pg. 6) He also bragged to Escobar, in reference to his work for Chevron, that "crime does pays." (See Transcript 1, October 1, 2009 p. 6)

At the time of the recording, Borja was (and apparently still is) receiving payment from Chevron for a number of expenses. Some might call this "hush money" to ensure Borja doesn't sing with too sweet a melody about Chevron's fraud in Ecuador. Among Chevron's payments to Borja:

A monthly stipend: On the tapes, Borja said that he made $10,000 per month while living in Ecuador and that Chevron is paying him an amount that allows him to live at the same level in the United States. Given that the cost of living in Ecuador is much lower than the U.S., the amount Chevron is now paying Borja is probably a healthy multiple of $10,000.

Re-location costs: In June 2009, Chevron obtained visas from the U.S. government and paid expenses to re-locate Borja and his family from Ecuador to San Ramon, California, Chevron's headquarters. Borja's wife, Sara Portilla, worked for Chevron for several years and apparently ran a Chevron laboratory that processed samples from the trial, even though Chevron had told the court the laboratory was independent.

Legal fees: Chevron has told reporters the company is covering Borja's legal expenses, including the fees of his criminal defense attorney, Chris Arguedes. Arguedes is a well-known criminal defense lawyer who represents Barry Bonds, among other notables. Paying for Borja's lawyer ensures that Chevron will limit the chance he has to be questioned by authorities about Chevron's own role in the fraud.

Housing: Borja said on the tapes Chevron is paying for a fully-furnished $6,000 per month house with a swimming pool in a gated community in San Ramon.

Car: Chevron is making a Saturn SUV available for Borja and Portilla to drive.

Security: Chevron is providing a security detail for Borja.

From living in Ecuador to living the high life in California – for Diego Borja, it is clear that crimes does pay.

(Click here <> for more information. See Transcript 3, October 1, 2009, pgs. 12-15)

Chevron has refused to comment on Borja's statements.