Did President Obama and the U.S. Department of Justice extort the billion-dollar damage settlement with BP for its 2010 accidental spill off the Gulf Coast?
Based on legal arguments being made in a U.S. court, Chevron would have you believe so.
Chevron has accused the Ecuadorian indigenous groups and their lawyers suing the oil giant for massive oil contamination in the Amazon rainforest of extorting money from the company by applying pressure on its executives to settle.
In a brief filed recently with the Southern District Court of New York, the Ecuadorians’ lawyer Craig Smyser argued: (See here, page 4.)
“Chevron fallaciously argues that any effort to effectuate a settlement is part of an organized crime scheme. Hogwash. The argument turns every settlement conference into a meeting of crime bosses. Under Chevron’s reasoning, the meetings and public discourse among the United States Government, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and British Petroleum concerning settlement of the Deep-Water Horizon oil spill dispute were a RICO scheme.”
Well, today, BP and the DOJ announced a settlement agreement but no mention by BP of possible extortion or racketeering charges. See this Chevron Pit, comparing the accidental BP spill to the intentional contamination by Chevron of the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Chevron also has accused Ecuador President Rafeal Correa of being part of the racketeering conspiracy to extort money from the oil giant because he expressed concern for people living near Chevron’s contamination.
“They will pay for the mess they’ve made,” he said. But, wait, that wasn’t President Correa. That was President Obama.
From the White House web site:
“So let’s be clear about a few things: BP is responsible for -- and will be held accountable for – all of the very significant clean-up and containment costs. They will pay for the mess they’ve made….The bottom line is that the Administration will aggressively pursue compensation from BP for any damages from this spill.”
Aggressively pursue? Be careful, Mr. President. If Chevron has its way, every government official, lawyer, lobbyist, PR consultant or even CEO working in tandem to collect damages, possibly through a settlement, could be facing extortion charges, filed by companies with executives who would rather fight in court than be held accountable for their misconduct.
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