Five Irrefutable Truths about the Fraud Against Chevron in Ecuador Oil Pollution Lawsuit
“If you repeat a lie a thousand times it becomes the truth.” That’s the motto Steven Donziger, the U.S. lawyer behind the fraudulent case against Chevron in Ecuador, once emphasized to a member of his team. In March he was found by a U.S. court to have violated federal racketeering laws, committing mail and wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Despite the U.S. court finding that the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron is the product of fraud, bribery and extortion, Donziger and his team continue to repeat their distortions about the case hoping that their lies will become the truth.
Unfortunately for Mr. Donziger, his associates and his supporters, the truth in this case has been proved and is undeniable.
Here are five irrefutable truths about the case:
1. Claims against Chevron are not supported by scientific evidence. Donziger’s own scientific experts have admitted under oath that there was no scientific evidence to support his claims against Chevron. One former expert testified that when his test results showed no evidence of environmental contamination, Donziger and his team drafted falsified reports and forged the expert’s signature. Another expert admitted in court that Donziger demanded a wildly inflated damages estimate in an effort to pressure Chevron into a settlement.
2. Texaco’s remediation was certified by the government of Ecuador. In 1995 Texaco Petroleum Company (acquired by Chevron in 2001), the government of Ecuador and the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, agreed that Texaco Petroleum would remediate its share of production sites before exiting the country. The company embarked on a three-year, $40 million remediation program overseen by Woodward Clyde, a reputable international environmental contractor, and audited by the government. After the remediation was certified by the government as complete, Texaco Petroleum exited the country with a full release from further environmental liability. Petroecuador, however, has continued to operate many of the sites and more than doubled operations in the former concession over the past 20 years with a dismal environmental record. Any remaining environmental issues are the sole responsibility of Petroecuador.
3. The Ecuadorian judgment is the product of fraud. Because there was no scientific evidence to support his claims, Donziger and his team resorted to fraud. This included bribing and threatening judges, fabricating evidence, bribing court appointees, using secret bank accounts, ghostwriting court reports, ghostwriting the judgment and directing a public pressure campaign against Chevron. In 2011 an Ecuadorian court issued a $19 billion judgment against Chevron. However, evidence has proved that the judgment was ghostwritten by Donziger’s team in exchange for a $500,000 bribe they offered to the judge presiding over the case. A former Ecuadorian judge who helped broker the bribe came forward to testify about the scheme. Additionally, text from the internal work product of Donziger’s team was copied and pasted directly into the judgment – typos and all. Based on this evidence a U.S. federal court declared that “the wrongful actions of Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team would be offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador – and they knew it.”
4. The evidence is unrefuted. During the seven-week federal racketeering trial against Donziger and his associates, he failed to rebut the evidence of his fraudulent actions. While he and his team have since authored a barrage of press releases and blog posts in an attempt to rationalize and explain away their misconduct, the facts of their scheme are now known. To date Donziger and his team have not, and cannot, explain away their conduct, including in court filings they have made in support of their appeal.
5. The campaign against Chevron is manufactured and paid for. A variety of activist groups and other supporters claim there is a groundswell of public support for Donziger and against Chevron. They point to protests against the company and opposition social media sites. Businessweek recently revealed, however, that the “protesters” were actually paid actors recruited by a casting agency. It also was revealed that the social media sites dedicated to opposing Chevron are funded by the Ecuadorian government and include a number of fake Twitter accounts.
Steven Donziger and his supporters have and will continue their pattern of repeating lies in hopes of avoiding the truth, but the facts are clear: Their case against Chevron in Ecuador is a fraud – and neither a thousand nor ten thousand lies will change that.