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Chevron awarded $28 million in Ecuador legal battle

Chevron scored another victory Wednesday in an ongoing legal battle tied to 20-year pollution case in Ecuador.

The Supreme Court of Gibraltar granted Chevron a $28 million award after issuing a judgment against Amazonia Recovery Ltd, a Gibraltar-based company established to receive and distribute funds resulting from a contentious 2011 Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron.

The court also granted a permanent injunction against Amazonia that prevents the firm from providing any assistance or support in the case against Chevron.

Chevron filed claims against Amazonia before the Supreme Court of Gibraltar in 2014, alleging that the company is “a vehicle to perpetuate the ongoing fraud scheme against Chevron.”

Chevron also alleged that Amazonia was founded and controlled by Steven Donziger, the lead American attorney behind the Ecuadorian lawsuit, and his team to serve as a “clearinghouse” for incoming funding and support and outgoing proceeds.

“The company was established for the purpose of ensuring that any proceeds realized from the judgment against Chevron would be kept out of Ecuador, allowing Donziger and his team to control who got paid, in what order and in what amount,” Chevron said.

Judge Adrian Jack wrote in his judgment that since the filing of its defense Amazonia has not participated in the case, either through lawyers or through an employee.

Amazonia also failed to comply with an order to file a disclosure report and a witness statement, automatically striking out its defense, the judge wrote.

“Since liability on Amazonia’s part is established, in my judgment it is appropriate to grant the injunction, so that Amazonia cannot take any further steps to damage Chevron,” Judge Adrian Jack wrote.

The case stretches back to 1964 when Texaco, now part of Chevron, spilled millions of gallons of toxic wastewater in the Amazon rain forest while operating in Ecuador.

Texaco spent $40 million to clean up its share of the sites and both local communities and the Ecuadorian government released the company from any further liability.

In 2011, an Ecuadorian court ruled against Chevron and granted a group of villagers represented by Donziger an $18 billion judgment against the company, although the award was later reduced to $9.5 billion.

Soon after the decision was handed down, reports of alleged corruption and bribery spearheaded by Donziger during the case began to surface.

The Ecuador judgment was overturned by a U.S. federal judge last year after the court found that Donziger violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and had engineered a scheme to coerce court officials and others involved in the case.

Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan also concluded that Donziger and his legal team bribed an Ecuadorean judge to issue the initial $18 billion judgment against Chevron in 2011.

Donziger and his team have denied wrongdoing and are currently appealing Judge Kaplan’s decision.

Chevron still has conspiracy claims pending in Gibraltar against three directors of Amazonia: Pablo Fajardo, Luis Yanza, and Ermel Chavez.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the group of Ecuadorean villagers represented by Dozinger can sue Chevron Canada in Ontario for contamination around Lago Agrio that occurred between 1964 and 1992.


Nicolas Torres is a reporter for Petro Global News, where a version of this post first appeared.

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