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How Did Steven Donziger Obtain a Fraudulent Judgment? Let’s Count The Ways

Chevron Ecuador case background

How did Steven Donziger and his associates obtain a fraudulent multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron Corporation in Ecuador? Let a U.S. federal court count the ways.

In a nearly 500-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan outlined the fraudulent scheme carried out by Donziger and his associates on behalf of the Lago Agrio Plaintiffs (LAPs):

Pressured Judges
“Donziger and his colleagues repeatedly have pressured the Ecuadorian judges ‘to let [them] know what time it is,’ to send a message that they cannot ‘f**k with us anymore – not now, and not – not later, and never.’ When one individual suggested to Donziger and [co-counsel Alejandro] Ponce that the judge would be ‘killed’ for ruling against the LAPs, Donziger responded that the judge ‘might not be [killed], but he’ll think – he thinks he will be . . . [w]hich is just as good.’” (Pg. 431)

“[Co-counsel Pablo] Fajardo and Donziger coerced Judge [German] Yánez to allow the LAPs to terminate their remaining judicial inspections, to appoint a global expert, and to designate their hand-picked choice, Richard Cabrera, for that position. They did so by threatening him with the filing of a misconduct complaint at a time when he was especially vulnerable, and by other pressure as well.” (Pg. 324)

Bribed Court Appointee Richard Cabrera
“Cabrera was not even remotely independent. He was recruited by Donziger. He was paid under the table out of a secret account above and beyond the legitimate court-approved payments.” (Pg. 115)

“[A]t least some of these payments and benefits, actual and promised, were bribes given to influence Cabrera’s actions as the court-appointed global expert. The quid pro quo were Cabrera’s repeated representations to the Lago Agrio court and others that he was impartial and independent, his putting of his name to the Report largely prepared by Stratus and it subcontractors and claiming that Report as his own product, and his filing as his own purported response (actually written mostly by Stratus and the LAPs) to the LAPs’ and Chevron’s comments on the Cabrera Report.” (Pg. 326)

Misled the Public, Media, Courts
“Donziger’s pressure campaign included a plethora of false and misleading representations to persons and entities – including among others members of the media, the New York Attorney General, the SEC, the New York State Comptroller, and Chevron shareholders – often in efforts to pressure Chevron into settlement. Likewise, Donziger, a member of the New York Bar, attempted to deceive the judges of this Court.” (Pg. 408)

Colluded with the Government
“The ‘political battle’ in Ecuador was made possible by President Correa who consistently has expressed strong feelings about, and demonstrated great interest in, the LAPs’ suit against Chevron. President Correa pledged his full support to the LAPs in a 2007 meeting with Yanza, Ponce, and others. The LAPs’ media agent reported to Donziger the following day that President Correa ‘GAVE US FABULOUS SUPPORT. HE EVEN SAID THAT HE WOULD CALL THE JUDGE.’” (Pg. 431)

Bribed Judge, Ghostwrote His Judgment
“Ultimately, the LAP team wrote the Lago Agrio court’s Judgment themselves and promised $500,000 to the Ecuadorian judge to rule in their favor and sign their judgment.” (Pg. 2)

“This Court has found that the LAPs wrote the Judgment, in whole or in major part, that they gave the draft to [Judge Nicolas] Zambrano … Even if Zambrano had not been bribed to take these actions, his actions and those of the LAPs would have been fraud on the court and/or extrinsic fraud, the choice being only a matter of one’s verbal preference.” (Pg. 327)

Committed Fraud
“Donziger and the LAPs committed fraud on the court and/or extrinsic fraud by means independent of the bribery of Zambrano, the corruption of Cabrera, and the coercion of Judge Yánez.” (Pg. 327)

“Donziger engaged in multiple acts that are indictable under the wire fraud statute and that therefore are acts of racketeering activity.” (Pg. 379)

“Donziger’s misconduct outside the courthouse went hand in hand with his misconduct within it. Both were parts of an offensive to produce a multi-billion dollar payout.” (Pg. 367)


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