Videos Reveal Serious Judicial Misconduct and Political Influence in Ecuador Lawsuit
Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:47pm EDT
Chevron Calls for Investigation, Disqualification of Judge in Ecuador Case
SAN RAMON, Calif.--(Business Wire)--
Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX) today provided authorities in Ecuador and the U.S. with
video recordings that reveal a $3 million bribery scheme implicating the judge
presiding over the environmental lawsuit currently pending against the company
and individuals who identify themselves as representatives of the Ecuadorian
government and its ruling party.
In the videos, the judge confirms that he will rule against Chevron and that
appeals by the energy company will be denied - even though the trial is ongoing
and evidence is still being received. A purported party official also states
that lawyers from the executive branch have been sent to assist the judge in
writing the decision.
The recorded meetings also show an individual who claims to be a representative
of Ecuador`s ruling political party, Alianza PAIS, seeking $3 million in bribes
in return for handing out environmental remediation contracts to two businessmen
after the verdict is handed down. Of that sum, he said $1 million would go to
Judge Juan Núñez, $1 million would go to "the presidency" and $1 million to the
The video-taped meetings occurred in May and June of 2009. Two of the meetings
took place at the Quito offices of Alianza PAIS, one meeting took place in the
judge`s chambers in Lago Agrio, and a second meeting involving the judge took
place in a Quito hotel.
After referring the evidence of the scheme to authorities, Chevron Executive
Vice President Charles James said that company lawyers will seek the
disqualification of the judge in the case and annulment of his prior rulings.
"Chevron has consistently asserted that the case has involved improper
complicity between the plaintiffs and Ecuador`s executive branch and other legal
irregularities," James said. "These video recordings raise additional serious
questions about corruption, executive branch interference and prejudgment of the
case that demand a full investigation. No judge who has participated in meetings
of the type shown on these tapes could possibly deliver a legitimate decision."
Evidence of the bribery plot was brought to Chevron`s attention in June by an
Ecuadorian, who was pursuing business opportunities in Ecuador with an American
businessman. The Ecuadorian, Diego Borja, has performed work for Chevron as a
logistics contractor. Borja also has a relative who works as a contractor to
Chevron. The American, Wayne Hansen, has no relationship to Chevron. Since the
time that the recordings came into Chevron`s possession, the company has made
extensive efforts to authenticate and preserve the information.
Borja and Hansen recorded their meetings in Ecuador without Chevron`s knowledge,
and neither man was paid to provide the recordings to Chevron. Because of
concern for Borja`s safety, Chevron has assisted him and his family with
relocation expenses and other interim support.
"We are calling upon Ecuadorian authorities to conduct a full investigation of
this matter - focusing not only on the conduct of Judge Núñez, but also on the
very serious indications of political interference in this case," James said.
"Given the highly sensitive nature of this information and our concerns about
the rule of law in Ecuador, we felt compelled to put this entire matter into the
public domain as a check against retaliation or further unlawful conduct as it
relates to the case there. We also believe that public disclosure will encourage
a deeper investigation of these matters by appropriate officials within
On May 11, Borja and Hansen attended a meeting at the Quito offices of Alianza
PAIS where they were introduced to Patricio Garcia, who represented himself as
an official with the party. Later, Garcia arranged for Borja and Hansen to fly
to Lago Agrio for a May 15 meeting with Judge Núñez. During the meeting, held in
the judge`s chambers and recorded by Borja and Hansen, Judge Núñez stated that
the government of Ecuador, not the plaintiffs, would receive the funds earmarked
for remediation produced by the judgment against Chevron.
Subsequently, Borja and Hansen met with Judge Núñez at a Quito hotel on June 5.
Attending the meeting was Juan Pablo Novoa, who represented himself as legal
counsel for government officials.
During the meeting, Judge Núñez answered a series of questions about the case
from the businessmen, who were seeking assurances the court proceedings would
generate business. Novoa stated that "we have the political power" to direct
remediation contracts and stressed the judge "is generating the work through the
ruling." Novoa added, "The offer from the people in the government that I
represent, I`m a delegate of them, so I`m accompanying the judge so that you can
be serious about the case."
Judge Núñez confirmed that he would be issuing a ruling, the appeal would be a
formality and the government would be handling the funds associated with
remediation contracts. In a final exchange with the businessmen before the
meeting ended, Judge Núñez revealed how he was planning to handle his ruling:
Núñez: "Any other questions for me as a judge?"
Hansen: "Oh no, I, I know clearly how it is, you say, Chevron is the guilty
Núñez: "Yes Sir."
Hansen: "And the, the, the act (decision) is October or November of this year?"
Núñez: "Yes Sir."
Hansen: "And it`s…?"
Núñez: "No later than January."
Hansen: "January 2010. And the money is twenty-seven (billion dollars)?"
Núñez: "It might be less, and it might be more."
The last recorded meeting regarding the bribes, in which Judge Núñez was not
present, occurred June 22 at the Alianza PAIS office in Quito. During the
meeting, Garcia confirmed the details of the bribe:
Borja: "OK. Of the three million … one million is for the judge?"
Borja: "One million for the presidency…?"
Borja: "And one million for the plaintiffs?"
Garcia: "Yes, that`s right."
Borja: "But for the plaintiffs, who gets the money, man? Fajardo?"
Garcia: "No. On this matter, we`re going to handle it here."
Borja: "You mean Alianza PAIS would receive the payment here?"
For the full transcripts and the complete video recordings, go to
www.chevron.com/ecuador or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=var67Gg9rKs.
Chevron Corporation is one of the world`s leading integrated energy companies,
with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company`s success is
driven by the ingenuity and commitment of more than 62,000 employees who operate
across the energy spectrum. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude
oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and
other energy products; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates
power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and
develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other
renewables. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron
is available at www.chevron.com.
Spanish transcripts and a Spanish version of this release are also available at
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:
Donald Campbell, 925-842-2589 (San Ramon)
Kent Robertson, 925-842-1695 (San Ramon)
James Craig, 646-416-0191 (Miami)
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