Friday, September 23, 2011

Wikileaks Cable Reveals Chevron Tried To Buy Ecuadorian Government Support To Kill Contamination Lawsuit With A Few "Social Projects" In Amazon

Courthouse News in an article about the Wikileaks cables from the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador revealed Chevron's hypocrisy in accusing the Ecuadorians of "conspiring" with Ecuadorian government officials in the long-running legal battle in the Amazon rainforest. Seems Chevron was "conspiring" with the U.S. Embassy. In his closing, legal reporter Adam Klasfeld reminds readers that even the highly-prejudiced Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan recognized that Chevron does not have "clean" hands. The surfacing of the Wikileaks' cables comes on the heels of a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision that rebuked Kaplan in his effort to block the Ecuadorians from enforcing their $18 billion judgment in Ecuador.

Here's the story, and below are a few excerpts:

Reporter Adam Klasfeld wrote:
"Chevron tried to shake off multibillion environmental claims in Ecuador by lobbying government officials, even as it blasted opponents for allegedly playing to the courts' corrupt and political side, according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks…."
".... in a cable to the U.S. secretary of state, former U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell wrote that Chevron had begun to "quietly explore" a deal with the government of Ecuador (GOE) to make the case disappear. (The cable read:) 'Chevron had begun to quietly explore with senior GOE officials whether it could implement a series of social projects in the concession area in exchange for GOE support for ending the case, but now that the expert has released a huge estimate for alleged damage, it might be hard for the GOE to go that route, even if it has the ability to bring the case to a close,' Jewell wrote on April 7, 2008…."
"....The Wikileaks cables also show that Chevron did not always have misgivings about the Ecuadorean courts. One rallying cry Chevron has used to undermine the Lago Agrio trial is a video that allegedly implicates the presiding judge, Juan Nuñez, in $3 million bribery scheme. Chevron has claimed it received videos unsolicited and published them over the Internet on Aug. 31, 2008….
"Two days after Chevron published the Nuñez footage, then-U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges sent a cable to the secretary reporting that Chevron lawyers phoned the Embassy to give diplomats a 'heads up' about the disclosure. Ecuador ultimately expelled Hodges this past April for disclosures she made in unrelated cables obtained by Wikileaks. While denying wrongdoing, Nuñez stepped down from the case to avoid the appearance of impropriety. But cracks quickly surfaced in Chevron's allegations. Summarizing hours of footage, The New York Times later reported, 'No bribes were shown on the tapes.'"
"Hodges explained in the cable that the 'tapes were recorded clandestinely by Diego Borja, an Ecuadorian who had performed work for Chevron as a logistics contractor, and Wayne Hansen, a U.S. citizen with no ties to Chevron.' Although Chevron has distanced itself from the cameramen, Courthouse News discovered emails currently under a court seal that show Hansen contacted the company's investigator months before the release of the videos. Hansen claimed in the email that Chevron duped him, and he threatened to ask Judge Nuñez for forgiveness if the company did not contact him."
"More than a year later, he sent another email to Borja's investigative firm. Hansen claimed that he was in Peru, to which he had apparently fled in defiance of a subpoena that would compel an explanation of the videos. Hodges, the ambassador, told Washington that Ecuadorean government officials were immediately skeptical and indignant about the recordings….."
".... In a follow-up cable sent about a week later, Hodges said that Ecuador's prosecutor general called on the (U.S.) attorney general to 'initiate proceedings against Chevron in the United States, presumably for violations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.' The Ecuadorean government has not backed off from allegations that Chevron orchestrated a 'judicial entrapment' scheme, and it continues to ask a U.S. federal judge to unseal the Borja and Hansen communications."
"In one of the first discovery proceedings Chevron initiated last year in New York, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan interrupted counsel for the Ecuadoreans as the lawyer assailed Chevron's litigation strategy.
'I am not naive,' Kaplan said. 'I don't assume that anyone's hands in this are clean.'"