Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chevron Can't Stop The Lies

In a recent letter to the Canadian newspaper, The National Post, Chevron repeats its lies to distract attention from its own misconduct in the world's largest oil-related environmental disaster in the Ecuadorian rainforest. 

For example, Chevron representatives are fond of claiming that a number of U.S. courts have “found” that there was “fraud” in the litigation in Ecuador. This is completely false. When Chevron made this assertion to one journalist who included it in his story, his publication, Courthouse News, was forced to run a retraction once it realized the reporter had been misled, stating that while “[a]n earlier version of this article quoted a Chevron spokesman as saying that eight federal courts had found the Ecuadorean plaintiffs had committed fraud. In fact, the courts issued crime-fraud exception findings during discovery. Chevron’s fraud allegations against the Ecuadorean plaintiffs remain unproven.” See here.
No U.S. court has made any final determination with respect to Chevron’s fraud allegations. In fact, 13 U.S. courts rejected or otherwise declined Chevron’s invitation to apply what is known as the crime/fraud exception. Such an exception requires a court to make only a prima facie showing that a fraud might have occurred if proven to be true. But no actual factual findings have been made. As one court succinctly put it: “The circumstances supporting [Chevron’s] claim of fraud largely are allegations and allegations are not factual findings."  Another wrote that Chevron was making a "mountain out of a molehill."  See here.

Chevron tries to distract attention from these facts with statements replete with falsehoods; meanwhile, independent journalists have long confirmed the company’s hand in creating this unprecedented catastrophe.  See these recent news reports from the Australia program Sunday Night; the American show 60 Minutes and this extraordinary video from the plaintiffs summarizing the evidence and Chevron’s corrupt attempts to derail the trial.   A story in Vanity Fair on the courageous Ecuadorian lawyer Pablo Fajardo, who was raised in abject poverty and who has been targeted with death threats, can be seen here.

Chevron takes emails and other correspondence out of context and cleverly edits video to make it appear that our own experts do not believe there is contamination. Yet one of the most respected experts in the world on how contaminants travel in groundwater – Dr. Ann Maest -- testified under oath recently that there is massive contamination of water in Chevron’s concession area. See here and here. In a blatant act of deceit, in a blog Chevron leaves the false impression that Dr. Maest agrees with the company that there is no water contamination.  See here.
Chevron’s assertion that the plaintiffs wrote the judgment is a both a fabrication and a final act of desperation. For this argument, Chevron relies on more paid experts who analyze what they call “word strings” from an internal memo from the plaintiffs that appeared in a handful of paragraphs in the 188-page judgment.  Yet arguments from the memo using the same language were submitted to court in numerous motions throughout the eight-year trial.  It is completely plausible for a court to adopt arguments and language from briefs or other materials submitted to the court.
The real and only fraud is Chevron's environmental crimes, its phony remediation, its manipulation of evidence during the Ecuador trial and its abuse of the rule of law by delaying and attempting to derail the trial during the eight-year-long proceeding. See here, here and  here.
These facts, as confirmed by Ecuador’s courts and independent journalists, are bad for Chevron.  More to the point, they explain why the company tried to sabotage the proceedings in Ecuador, and how it will now try to convince courts it Canada that somehow it was the victim of a shakedown by indigenous groups in Ecuador.
Don’t believe it.

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