While it’s not shocking that corruption and bribery is part of Latin American politics, the videotapes from Ecuador that Chevron released yesterday rival the Abscam scandal of the 1970s and 1980s which led to the conviction of a U.S. Senator, five members of the House of Representatives as well as other local and regulatory officials.
The videotapes obtained by Chevron demonstrate conclusively that the case against the oil company and Texaco, which it acquired in 2000, is stacked against Chevron. In the tapes, the judge in the case secretly states that he will find Chevron guilty in the $27 billion case of alleged pollution in the Amazon and that he will deny all appeals by Chevron and its attorneys, despite the fact that the case is still in progress. See: chevron.com/news/press.
The videotapes also show individuals who claim to represent Alianza Pais, the ruling party of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, seeking $3 million in bribes in exchange for business contracts to clean up environmental damage to the Amazon.
The tapes reveal the Alianza Pais representatives seeking $1 million to be paid to the judge in the case, Juan Nunez; $1 million would go “to the presidency” of Rafael Correa; and, $1 million would be paid to the plaintiffs. The representatives state that Pierina Correa, sister of President Rafael Correa, is aware of their efforts.
Here in the United States, the disclosure of the secret conversations raise significant problems for Amazon Watch and Amazon Defense Coalition, the groups working on behalf of American plaintiff attorneys Steven Donziger and the law firm of Kohn Swift & Graf. The videotapes wipe out their case against Chevron, proving the judicial and political system of Ecuador is for sale and is corrupt.
Questions undoubtedly will be raised about which plaintiffs’ group would have received the $1 million in bribery money from the plot. Assuredly there will also be other investigations to determine if there are additional incidences of bribery and corruption involving the Ecuadorian judiciary, the presidency of Rafael Correa and others.
Already, President Correa has had to answer questions about insider contracts going to members of his family. Mr. Correa had to quickly rescind $80 million worth of government oil contracts with companies controlled by his brother Fabricio, a Guayaquil-based entrepreneur, in July of this year.
“It is the experience of the plaintiffs that Chevron has a long history of corrupt acts in Ecuador to evade accountability for its reckless environmental practices. The video seems to fit squarely into Chevron`s historic pattern of corruption in Ecuador. Ultimately, an investigation will determine the facts and Chevron`s role in this episode,” was Karen Hinton’s response to the videotape disclosures today on behalf of the Amazon Defense Coalition.
Hinton failed to document any alleged claims of corrupt acts by Chevron in the ADC press release.
After turning over the videotapes to the justice departments in Washington and Quito, Ecuador, Chevron yesterday demanded removal of the Judge Nunez, the overturn of all of his rulings, and asked that the case be thrown out of court.
Throughout the trial, Chevron has made a convincing case that Texaco, which operated in Ecuador and which it purchased in 2000, was not guilty of polluting the Amazon in Ecuador. Instead, Chevron has placed responsibility on PetroEcuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company. There is ample evidence to conclude that PetroEcuador is the real culprit in bespoiling the Amazon.
It is clear from today’s news that the case against Chevron is a con job. For many years Chevron has tried to get the news media and the public to look at the case from its point of view. Today, the oil giant was vindicated by the disclosure of corruption in Ecuador.
It would be easy to say that Amazon Watch, Amazon Defense Coalition, Steven Donziger, Kohn Swift & Graf, and lobbyist Ben Barnes have egg on their faces. But the reality is starker: they have a six-egg cheesy omelet dripping all over themselves. Covered in the mess is Joe Berlinger, who produced the movie “Crude,” a Stalin-era piece of propaganda for the attorneys and their ‘environmental’ supporters.
Now the plaintiffs’ attorneys and their supporters must stop the propaganda and realize that beyond their wild dreams of reaping a windfall profit based on false charges against Chevron, that they owe the media, the public, and most of all the indigenous population of Ecuador an apology for their continuing campaign of disinformation and propaganda aimed solely at lining their own pockets.
The time is now to turn attention to PetroEcuador and demand that Ecuador clean up its own mess.
See Related: ECUADORAN JUDICIAL SCANDAL ARCHIVES
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