Monday, October 19, 2009

Today’s Bribery Tale Very Different from the One Chevron Told Seven Weeks Ago…

The tale that Chevron told about how two men secretly recorded a bribery scheme in Ecuador is a very different tale today from the one Chevron unveiled seven weeks ago on YouTube and through the news media. Chevron's attempt to use the bribery scheme to derail a potential $27 billion lawsuit for oil contamination in the Ecuadorian rainforest could turn out to be as big of a corporate scandal as the pretexting debacle at Hewlett Packard.

Below is a quick comparison of Chevron's original version of the story and what we know today. For more information, take a look at this complete list of Chevron's unanswered questions about the purported bribery scandal, and this compilation of media reports about the purported bribery scandal.

What Chevron Said Seven Weeks Ago:

  • Patricio Garcia is a government party official who met at the party's headquarters office in Quito with Borja and Hansen

  • Diego Borja is [only] a former Chevron logistics contractor

  • Wayne Hansen, is an American business man who was looking for remediation work in Ecuador.

  • Borja and Hansen have not received any payment for secretly taping Garcia in meetings.

What We Know Today:

  • Garcia is not even a registered party member, much less a party official. Government party officials know of no formal role Garcia has played with the party, except to hand out flyers or cater events.

  • Garcia, Borja and Hansen did not meet at the party's headquarters office; they met at a house owned by Garcia and at Borja's office.

  • Garcia said Borja's office is in the same building as Chevron's legal team in Quito and that Borja's family owns the office building.

  • Borja is not just a "former logistics contractor" for Chevron. He worked on the lawsuit for Chevron, helping to obtain soil samples for contamination testing as recently as March, only a few weeks before the first meeting with Garcia was secretly recorded.

  • If Hansen is a businessman with an expertise in oil clean-up work and who owns his own remediation company, he does not advertise his services. (Chevron has confirmed that the only "Wayne Hansen" listed on any internet search engine is not the same Wayne Hansen who filmed the meetings.)

  • Nowhere on the video recordings do any government officials, the plaintiffs or the judge discuss or accept a bribe.

  • Despite what Chevron said about not paying for their services, Chevron paid Borja relocation expenses for him and his family to move to the US and for "interim support." Chevron has offered to pay both men's legal fees for the two top criminal defense lawyers Borja and Hansen have hired. The lawyers work in San Francisco, only a few miles from Chevron's headquarters in San Ramon.

Note that Borja's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, represented Hewlett Packard's former general counsel Ann Baskin in the pretexting scandal.

Chevron should pay attention - they may end up needing Arguedas' help as well…