Ecuadorian Trial Lawyer Admits Illegal Conduct in Email; Fears Jail Time For Actions
Chevron Corp. has obtained through U.S. court-ordered discovery correspondence revealing that lawyers suing the company admit to illegal conduct in the trial against the company in Lago Agrio, Ecuador and fears that they may go to jail for their actions.
In a March 30, 2010 e-mail, Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyer Julio Prieto expresses his concern that an order from a U.S. federal court in Denver, Colorado will force representatives of Stratus Consulting to reveal documents and correspondence exposing fraud and collusion committed by the plaintiffs’ team. Stratus is the plaintiffs’ environmental consulting firm that secretly wrote much of a $27 billion damages assessment for the Ecuadorian court’s supposedly independent expert, Richard Stalin Cabrera Vega.
The following is a certified translation, followed by the original email in Spanish, of the exact text of the e-mail Prieto sent to Steven Donziger, U.S. lawyer and head of the plaintiffs’ legal team, lawyers Pablo Fajardo and Juan Pablo Saenz (“Juanpa”), as well as plaintiffs’ legal coordinator Luis Yanza. The Certificate of Accuracy of this translation is available here:
Ten days after sending the e-mail, on April 9, 2010, the plaintiffs’ petitioned the Provincial Court of Sucumbios asking the judge not to accept evidence obtained by Chevron in American courts and to write to those courts urging them to halt discovery proceedings begun by Chevron in the U.S.. The judge in Ecuador has not ruled on the plaintiffs’ motion and discovery has progressed in the U.S. Those discovery proceedings have yielded irrefutable proof – outtakes from the movie Crude, letters, e-mails, diary entries, plaintiffs-authored drafts of “Cabrera’s” report and sworn testimony of plaintiffs’ lawyers and technical experts – of the fraud, collusion and other illegal and possibly criminal actions of the plaintiffs’ representatives in the trial in Ecuador. In short, exactly what Mr. Prieto feared would occur.
Chevron has provided much of this evidence to the Lago Agrio court and called on the court to address the fraud by dismissing the plaintiffs’ case and punishing the plaintiffs’ lawyers for their misconduct.