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Chevron Paying At Least $326,000 Bribe to Ecuadorian Judge

Chevron Paying At Least $326,000 Bribe to Ecuadorian Judge For False Testimony

NEW YORK, Jan. 28 /CSRwire/ - In press statements, Chevron has admitted it will pay at least $326,000 to a former disgraced Ecuador judge for false testimony designed to help the oil giant evade a $19 billion judgment against the company for the world's worst oil contamination.

Last week the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, who won the judgment, revealed in a press release that Chevron had offered lucrative benefits packages to former Ecuadorian judges in return for false testimony in order to undermine the environmental trial that led to the $19 billion verdict.

Chevron's $326,000 payment to a former disgraced Ecuador judge, Alberto Guerra Bastides, includes a $38,000 one-time payment for Guerra's erroneous affidavit, immigration from Ecuador to Miami, Florida, a generous $12,000 a month salary, plus an undetermined amount in health insurance and legal costs -- a package of kickbacks and bribes similar to the ones offered to Chevron contractor Diego Borja, who secretly videotaped another Ecuador judge and falsely accused him of taking a bribe. Borja, who Chevron has paid at least $2.2 million since 2009, later recanted his story in a conversation with a friend after Chevron re-located him from Ecuador to California then Texas. See here and here.

The new effort – which representatives of the plaintiffs said was tantamount to bribery – comes at a time when Chevron seems increasingly prone to use desperate measures to shore up its ailing legal position after an Ecuador court found it guilty of deliberately dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste when it operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992. Chevron now faces seizure actions targeting an estimated $15 billion of assets in Canada and Brazil, while an Argentine court recently froze millions of dollars of company assets in that country.

Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, said:

"Alberto Guerra is a disgraced former Ecuadorian judge who is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Chevron to make false allegations about the Ecuador trial court judgment. In exchange for living the good life in Miami at Chevron’s expense, Guerra is now trying to carve out a role in the company’s ongoing Nixon-style dirty tricks campaign to evade paying its $19 billion legal obligation for creating the world’s worst environmental catastrophe. This obligation is owed by Chevron to the indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador whose cultures have been decimated by the company’s greedy and reckless practice of discharging billions of gallons of toxic waste into the environment.

"By its repeated actions of subterfuge, Chevron has shown that it is more than willing to violate the law to escape being held accountable for its environmental crimes and fraudulent cover-up in Ecuador. We note that Chevron’s campaign in Ecuador to bribe judges and illegally pressure the government to quash the legal case already has cost the company a multi-billion dollar punitive damages penalty and could result in the loss of billions of dollars worth of strategic company assets in seizure actions around the globe."

Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the 80 indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador who won the judgment against Chevron, said that Guerra had offered to provide truthful testimony to the rainforest communities if they would pay him. The communities refused on principle to accede to that request, and instead encouraged Guerra to disclose what he knew about Chevron's corruption and pressure campaign against him and other judges, said Fajardo. Rebuffed by the rainforest communities, Guerra then accepted Chevron's offer and moved to the U.S., he added.

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