Chevron Corp. today condemned actions taken by the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers to intimidate, threaten, and harass whistleblower Fernando Reyes who has provided a sworn declaration offering an insider’s account of the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fraud during the trial in Ecuador. Subsequent to the filing of the Reyes Declaration, the plaintiffs’ lawyers and publicist have issued press statements attacking and disparaging Reyes and threatening him with harassing litigation.
Rather than address the substance of Reyes’ testimony on the merits, the plaintiffs’ representatives hope to intimidate him. Chevron calls upon the authorities to investigate these threats against Reyes. Chevron encourages other whistleblowers who have information about the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fraud to come forward.
Reyes is an Ecuadorian petroleum and environmental engineer who served as a consultant to the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Last Wednesday, Chevron submitted a sworn declaration from Reyes in support of its fraud and racketeering lawsuit in New York against the plaintiffs’ lawyers and backers in which Reyes provides an eyewitness account as to how the plaintiffs’ lawyers have sought to manipulate the trial since its infancy, deceived the court, corrupted the trial process, and engaged in the development of a fraudulent “independent” report. Reyes’ testimony is corroborated not only by his own notes, but by documents produced by Donziger in court-ordered discovery, deposition testimony, and outtakes (here and here) from the movie “Crude.” The plaintiffs’ lead American lawyer, Steven Donziger, once described Reyes as “one of the most qualified engineers and academics in the field.”
The Reyes Declaration confirms the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fraud on multiple levels. Reyes had considerable involvement in the Lago Agrio case for the plaintiffs, first serving as what was represented as an “independent” monitor of court experts and then as a “shadow” advisor to Richard Cabrera, a supposedly-independent court expert. In fact, Reyes introduced Cabrera to Donziger and his co-counsel, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers pressured the court in Ecuador to appoint Cabrera to conduct a “global assessment” of environment conditions in the Oriente region of Ecuador’s Amazon. Reyes was also present in a meeting between the plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants and Cabrera before Cabrera was appointed as an independent court expert (video from the meeting here and here). Cabrera ultimately submitted a report to the court, described by one of the plaintiffs’ consultants as “the single most important technical document for the case,” assigning more than $27 billion in damages against Chevron.
Cabrera’s report has since been shown to be a fraud, written by the plaintiffs’ representatives and passed off as the work of a neutral and independent court appointee. Reyes’ declaration describes the process by which the plaintiffs’ lawyers sought out someone who, as Donziger put it, would “totally play ball with us and let us take the lead while projecting the image that he is working for the court.” The plaintiffs’ lawyers’ were aware of the fraud they were committing: as their scheme to deceive the court was unraveling, Donziger’s co-counsel wrote, “all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail.”
While courts in Ecuador have ignored the evidence of the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fraud, even going as far as to include many of “Cabrera’s” claims in the judgment issued last year, other courts have not. In an opinion issued in July, a court in the Southern District of New York found that “uncontradicted evidence demonstrates that the report and subsequent responses filed in Cabrera’s name were tainted by fraud.”
More information on the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fraud can be found here. Additional background on the Ecuador litigation can be accessed here and here.