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Argentine Prosecutor Urges Appeals Court to Reject Fraudulent Ecuador Judgment Against Chevron

Date: Jun 26, 2018

Argentina’s federal prosecutor’s office has recommended that an appeals court reject an attempt by plaintiffs’ lawyers to enforce a fraudulent $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against U.S.-based Chevron Corporation in the country.

In an opinion requested by the court, Assistant Court Prosecutor Ricardo Ruben Peyrano determined that the appellate court should affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the case based on a lack of jurisdiction and the principle of “corporate separateness.” Peyrano said Chevron Corp., the company sued in Ecuador, has no directly held assets or legal presence in Argentina and Chevron Argentina SRL and other indirect local subsidiaries are separate legal entities with no connection to the Ecuadorian case.

“There is no reasonable point of connection with the local forum that would allow the Argentine justice system to consider the exequatur promoted by the plaintiffs,” Peyrano said in his 22-page opinion. An “exequatur” in Argentine jurisprudence is a foreign judgment recognition and enforcement action.

The Argentine prosecutor’s opinion, the second issued in this action, is the latest in a series of setbacks in recent weeks for the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ Ecuadorian fraud and extortion scheme against Chevron.

Last week, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice ended the Ecuadorian plaintiff’s attempt to extend their fraud, declaring final its decision last November to dismiss the enforcement action in that country. In May, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiffs’ enforcement against Chevron Canada Ltd., an indirect subsidiary. Also last month, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar issued a judgment against plaintiffs’ lead Ecuadorian lawyer and representatives for their role in procuring and attempting to enforce a fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment, ordering them to pay Chevron $38 million in damages.

Background

The plaintiffs’ lawyers’ ongoing Ecuadorian scheme has suffered repeated defeats since March 2014, when a U.S. federal court found New York lawyer Steven Donziger and his Ecuadorian associates obtained the judgment against Chevron through fraud, bribery, coercion and blackmail, making it unenforceable in the United States. That decision was affirmed on appeal in 2016 and refused review by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers’ efforts to enlist Argentina’s courts to advance their conspiracy began in November 2012, when they convinced a court in Buenos Aires to freeze Chevron Argentina’s assets. The decision was overturned by the country’s Supreme Court by the following June, but efforts to get the Argentina courts to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment continued.

In March 2016, at the request of the court, Argentina’s prosecutor’s office issued its first recommendation against recognition, citing evidence of wrongdoing in the Ecuadorian proceeding. The prosecutor’s office concluded that “the anomalies detected cannot be admitted in our territory since the clearly violate national legal public order.”

On Nov. 1, 2017, the National Civil Court No. 61 of Buenos Aires rejected the action, stating that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that the Ecuadorian judgment had any link to Argentina that would justify its recognition by the country’s courts. That decision was appealed and is now before the appellate court.

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