Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Star Witness Backfires Against Chevron

Chevron’s new “witness” in the Ecuador case, Fernando Reyes, is the latest in a long line of company operatives whose comments have backfired against the oil giant in the long-running environmental litigation in Ecuador.

The growing list of discredited Chevron witnesses features a convicted felon who secretly videotaped a judge, an environmental expert who designed a soil sampling plan to make sure Chevron did not find contamination, a Chevron employee who ran a supposedly “independent” lab controlled by the oil company, an independent academic who turned out to be affiliated with a think tank that denies global warming, and a “technical expert” who turned out to be a former top lobbyist for the chemical industry.

The Reyes story is turning out to be more of the same.

Yesterday, Chevron released a press bulletin about a declaration by Reyes that is replete with lies and spin.

Reyes is an oil industry technician in Ecuador who worked briefly for the rainforest communities several years ago as part of their effort to monitor Chevron’s attempts to sabotage the trial.  In his declaration – parts of which appear to be written by Chevron lawyers -- Reyes claims the plaintiffs did not believe in their own evidence, which is simply untrue as these summaries demonstrate. See herehere, here, and here. 

In fact, Reyes could not point to one piece of evidence to contradict the overwhelming scientific data (including more than 80,000 chemical sampling results) that formed the basis for the $19 billion judgment against the company. See here. Even Chevron’s own lawyer, Rodrigo Perez Pallares, admitted in an advertisement the company deliberately dumped 16 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways. See here and here. That’s about 85 times more oil waste than BP spilled in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

It turns our that Reyes worked for Fugro McClelland, a geotechnical consulting company paid by Chevron to audit its operations in Ecuador in the early 1990s.  He currently works for Ivanhoe Energy, an oil industry stalwart with operations in China, Mongolia, and Ecuador.

The Fugro audit, released during the trial of Chevron in Ecuador, contradicts the contention by Reyes that the contamination was not as severe as the lawyers claimed. That report said: “All produced water from the production facilities eventually discharged to creeks and streams” except for one of the 376 well sites and separation stations operated by the company. See here and here for more details.

Reyes later worked for Fugro as part of Chevron’s remediation in the mid-1990s, which is widely condemned as a sham.  That is to say, Reyes, by his own admission, took part in one of the largest environmental frauds in history – one that Chevron lawyers tried to use as a defense in their failed strategy during the Ecuador trial. 

Reyes claims he was not paid for his affidavit.  We’re not so sure.  It was signed in Colombia, so at a minimum he received an all-expenses paid trip to that country – similar to the one Chevron offered Mary Cudahee, an American journalist Chevron tried to recruit to spy on the plaintiffs.  Reyes was also trying to insinuate himself into the Ecuador case to make as much as possible,  according to Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the rainforest communities.

We clearly remember Chevron’s claim that Diego Borja, the Chevron contractor who orchestrated a failed video entrapment scheme against a sitting judge in Ecuador, was motivated by “civic duty”.  Chevron’s scheme completely backfired.  Later, Borja admitted that the company paid him at least $2.2 million for his efforts while describing him as a “Good Samaritan”. See here.

Reyes is yet another Chevron “witness” peddling junk science and fake facts.  We hope he shows up in court to face cross-examination so the truth can be fully disclosed, unfiltered by Chevron’s legal team and the fake narrative being peddled by the company’s six public relations agencies. Other witnesses presented by Chevron in the Ecuador matter whose credibility was quickly blown up include:

Witnesses like these must give Chevron shareholders great comfort in CEO John Watson’s handling of the litigation. Really, it’s all under control.
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