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Kobre & Kim wins again in Chevron Ecuador fraud claims in attack on litigation funders – The Lawyer

Date: May 7, 2015

Kobre & Kim has won a third settlement against a litigation funding company for its client Chevron in the energy giant’s mammoth lawsuit with Ecuador over a fraudulent judgment relating to oil waste in the Amazon.

Woodsford Litigation Funding provided $2.5m (£1.6m) to fund the suit brought against Chevron. Following a settlement on Monday (4 May), the funder has withdrawn all financial support related to the Ecuador litigation and has assigned its interest in the case to Chevron.

Chevron brought conspiracy claims against Woodsford in Gibraltar for the company’s role in funding and advancing the lawsuit against it, which concluded in Ecuador in 2011.

Woodsford began funding Ecuador’s lawsuit against the oil and gas company in March 2013. A year later, a district court judge in New York ruled that the $9.5bn Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron was fraudulent and unenforceable in the US.

Chevron general counsel and vice president R. Hewitt Pate said: “We are pleased that yet another financial supporter of this fraudulent lawsuit has ended its involvement.

“In settling this matter Woodsford is the latest in a growing list of former funders, investors, scientific experts and legal counsel who have abandoned this illicit scheme.”

Leading lawyer for Ecuador Steven Donziger was also found guilty of fraud in March 2014 over charges that included bribing judges. He is in the process of appealing the decision. A hearing took place in late April in New York.

Legacy Patton Boggs, which attempted to enforce the $9.5bn judgment in 2010, handed over $15m to Chevron to settle claims by the oil and gas giant that it had concealed Donziger’s fraudulent tactics in 2014 (12 May 2014).

In a statement, Woodsford said: “It is, and always has been, Woodsford Litigation Funding Limited’s position that, in March 2013, it acted in good faith and in the normal course of its business in providing funding to support the Lago Agrio plaintiffs in their litigation against Chevron Corporation.

“In light of the 4 March 2014 opinion by Judge Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and having become deeply concerned about the ethical standards of attorney Steven Donziger, Woodsford has decided to forego any financial benefit from this matter and to relinquish its entire interest in the proceeds of the litigation to Chevron.”

Woodsford is the latest party to distance itself from the Ecuadorean lawsuit. In 2011 UK-based litigation funder Burford Capital withdrew its financial support from the case. In February 2015 Russell DeLeon, who invested approximately £23m in the lawsuit in exchange for a seven per cent stake in the billion-dollar judgment, withdrew his financial support.

Both Woodsford and DeLeon have agreed to transfer any proceeds they receive from the litigation to Chevron. In return Chevron has agreed to release all of its claims against Woodsford and Woodsford’s Gibraltar-based funding entity, Temeraire.

Kobre & Kim’s James Corbett QC and Andrew Stafford QC represented the firm in the Gibraltar litigation.

Chevron still has claims pending in Gibraltar against Amazonia Recovery, a Gibraltar-based litigation funder set up by Donziger to receive and distribute funds resulting from the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron, as well as three Amazonia directors.

Kobre & Kim has been retained by the FTSE 100 company on the litigation funding lawsuits. Founding partner Steven Kobre and international judgment enforcement lawyer Carrie Tendler are leading the work.

Chevron instructed Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in its claims the Ecuadorean judgment had been procured through bribery and fraud. Gibson Dunn secured a successful ruling for its client in March 2014.

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