During more than 20 years of litigation, allegations have been made about impacts on people and the environment from the former Ecuadorian oil operations of Texaco Petroleum Company (Texpet). The allegations have been repeated for years by Ecuador’s government and the plaintiffs’ lawyers and their supporters in an effort to justify a fraudulent $9.5 billion Ecuadorian court judgment against Chevron. Extensive research into each of these alleged impacts has proven them to be false.
LIE: Judge Kaplan is biased and in the pocket of Chevron and its attorneys.
TRUTH: The Second Circuit has repeatedly rejected Donziger’s baseless allegations of bias by Judge Kaplan.
In March 2021, the Second Circuit reiterated its approval of Judge Kaplan’s “thorough and fully persuasive fact findings and legal conclusions, which we have already affirmed in full, establishing Donziger’s violations of law and ethics that added up to a pattern of racketeering in violation of the RICO statute,” and held that, “[m]oving forward, Donziger should have no doubt that he can no longer sell any interests in the Ecuadorian Judgment for any reason, and use the proceeds for his benefit . . . or profit from such sales in any way whatsoever. This recent decision effectively brings to a close Donziger’s campaign to profit from the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment he procured through a multiple acts of racketeering activity, which the Court summarized: “Donziger, among other things, bribed the presiding judge to enter a judgment in his clients’ favor in exchange for $500,000 of the judgment’s proceeds; coerced the court to appoint a hand-picked expert whom Donziger paid for favorable testimony; and ghost-wrote the Ecuadorian Judgment.”
LIE: A corporate conspiracy to destroy Steven Donziger led to his disbarment in New York and conviction for defying court orders.
TRUTH: Overwhelming evidence of corruption and legal malpractice by Donziger show that the consequences befallen upon him are self-inflicted.
In 2020, the New York Appellate Division disbarred Donziger for “egregious professional misconduct” for masterminding theEcuador fraud against Chevron. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found overwhelming evidence that Donziger “obtained [the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron] by corrupt means,” including a pattern of extortion, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Travel Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”In 2021, Donziger was found guilty of civil contempt for his attempts to profit from his fraud and cover up his misconduct, including by failing to transfer to Chevron his interest in the Ecuadorian judgment, hiding assets, and refusing to provide electronic data that could potentially identify the location of the tens of millions of dollars that Donziger has raised related to the fraud, and that remain unaccounted for. Both his disbarment and conviction result from hundreds of pages of evidence that exposed corruption by Donziger and his co-conspirators in Ecuador. The Court held that the fraudulent $9.5 billion Ecuador judgment against Chevron was just one component of Donziger’s unlawful pressure campaign to extort Chevron out of billions of dollars—and had he succeeded he would have personally profited by “more than $600 million.”
LIE: Texaco failed to fulfill its remediation obligations at oil sites in the Amazon.
TRUTH: The government of Ecuador both agreed to, monitored and signed off on Texaco’sremediation work, and independent experts have found no evidence to support claims that Texaco failed to comply.
In 1990, Texaco subsidiary Texpet decided to leave the Ecuadorian Amazon and transfer all of its operations to the state of Ecuador. That led to an independent environmental audit of the oil operations to determine Texpet’s remediation obligations. Results from that audit led to a signed remediation agreement with Ecuador in which Texpet remediated 67 spill areas and 162 pits and made infrastructure improvements and socioeconomic contributions totaling $40 million. The government of Ecuador and state-owned Petroecuador monitored the remediation and, in 1998, signed a release agreement discharging and releasing Texpet from all claims and liabilities. Multiple court opinions have confirmed this. A well-known engineering firm specializing in environmental remediation carried out the project. After a personal visit to the area and having considered 40 reports from environmental experts, members of the Bilateral Investment Treaty Tribunal found “no cogent evidence” supporting Ecuador’s claim that Texaco failed to comply with the terms of the remediation plan approved by Ecuador. The BIT Tribunal’s award also recites the sworn testimony of Ecuadorian officials that Ecuador’s national oil company “during more than three decades, had done absolutely nothing” to address its own obligations to remediate the environmental conditions in the area, even though Ecuador received 97.3% ($22.67 billion) of the Consortium’s total revenue, while TexPet received less than 3% ($480 million).
LIE: Donziger is still supported by the plaintiffshe represented in Ecuador
TRUTH: Many of Donziger’s former allies and clients have repudiated him as corrupt
UDAPT, an organization that represents the relevant communities in the Amazon and is associated with counsel that represents the majority of the individual plaintiffs, declared Donziger persona non grata in 2016. UDAPT made its declaration because Donziger was entering into financing agreements “without any authorization to do so” from the indigenous populations he claimed to represent and “repeatedly refused to give an accounting on the use of more than US$20 million that he ‘raised’ on behalf of his clients.” UDAPT further determined that Donziger has “an obvious desire to take economic advantage of the case and to achieve some public fame for personal benefit,” rather than an interest in serving the interests of the indigenous groups. Other relevant indigenous communities sued Donziger in New York, alleging claims for unjust enrichment and claiming that Donziger falsely “represented to the [Ecuadorian] Court that [he] represent[ed]” the plaintiffs when, in actuality, there was no agreement between Donziger and the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs alleged that Donziger’s “interests in the [Ecuadorian] Litigation lie not in securing the Plaintiffs’ rights and interests in the [Ecuadorian] Judgement, but rather in collecting as much of the judgment as possible for their own use and benefit.”
LIE: Steven Donziger has made little to no money in a selfless pursuit to gain justice for Ecuadorians.
TRUTH: While Donziger failed in collecting a $600 million personal contingency fee from the fraudulent Ecuador judgment he facilitated, he’s raised millions of dollars related to the case that remains unaccounted for.
Multiple court findings contradict Donziger’s poverty pleas. “[M]illions of dollars have passed through Donziger’s hands over the years. Much of it is unaccounted for. He has had years in which to move assets around . . . [and] there already is a record of willingness on the part of Donziger to shift assets in which he has an interest into foreign locations to avoid what he may regard as judicial ‘interference.’” Donziger has raised no less than $19 million, including more than $9 million that flowed through bank accounts Donziger personally controlled. Donziger’s ongoing violations of discovery orders have prevented Chevron from uncovering the location of these funds. Since the RICO judgment, Donziger has raised “a minimum $2,367,500 from at least seven people or entities” and retained at least $666,476.34 of those funds for his own “personal benefit.” Donziger used those funds to make personal payments, including thousands of dollars in bar tabs, gym memberships, and wine store purchases. The Second Circuit recently rejected Donziger’s attempt to avoid paying Chevron’s litigation costs based on a supposed imbalance of resources, because the “costs were sought in a litigation in which Donziger has been found liable for engaging in a pattern of racketeering involving corruption of a foreign judiciary resulting in a multi-billion dollar judgment.”
LIE: The government of Ecuador continues to support the fraudulent judgment against Chevron.
TRUTH: Even Ecuador now concedes the judgment against Chevron was obtained by corrupt means.
In 2020, the District Court in The Hague upheld the BIT Tribunal’s award, highlighting that the Republic of Ecuador concedes that the judgment is fraudulent: “The fraudulent character of the judgment and the proceedings preceding it is common ground between [Chevron and Ecuador].” Ecuador also admitted that the judgment is “fraudulent” in a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative.
LIE: Steven Donziger has denied the allegations made against him in court.
TRUTH: While Donziger has issued repeated denials of wrongdoing out of court, he has never refuted in court the conclusive and well-document evidence of his misconduct.
As Judge Kearse wrote in her opinion for the Second Circuit, Judge Kaplan “made extensive factual findings as to the acts undertaken by Donziger to procure the [Ecuadorian] Lago Agrio Judgment . . . None of them is disputed.”
LIE: Steven Donziger and his co-conspirators were not aware their actions in Ecuador constituted gross legal malpractice.
TRUTH: Unearthed statements by Donziger and his co-conspirators make it clear they knew what they were doing was seriously wrong and could land them in jail.
In a “moment of panicky candor” amidst the fraudulent Ecuador case against Chevron, one Ecuadorian legal team member “admitted that if documents exposing [Donziger’s fraudulent dealings with a court-appointed expert] were to come to light, ‘apart from destroying the proceeding, all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail,’” according to court testimony. In addition, several outtakes of a film documentary Donziger was producing about the Ecuador case captured the now-disbarred lawyer making self-implicating statements. In one outtake, Donziger told a colleague, “Facts don’t exist, facts are created,” and in another he told law student interns, “We need to make facts that help us, and the facts that we need don’t always exist…and if they don’t exist in an obvious way you got to go figure out how to make them, otherwise you are going to lose.”
LIE: Steven Donziger is a human rights lawyer who has advanced human rights causes.
TRUTH: Actual human rights and anti-corruption activists disagree with Donziger’s self-portrayal.
While human rights lawyers fight against corruption, Donziger is the textbook definition of corrupt, having been disbarred in New York for obtaining the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron by corrupt means. As a group of prominent human rights and anti-corruption jurists stated in their amicus brief supporting Chevron before the Second Circuit: “[I]f [Judge Kaplan’s] findings are accurate, [Donziger’s] plea to look the other way in the name of human rights must be rejected. Advocates for human rights do not advance human rights by violating them, and the corrupt pattern of fraud, extortion, and bribery described by [Judge Kaplan], if accurate, denies the fundamental rights to due process of law and a fair trial.”
LIE: Donziger continues to be victimized by corporate injustice related to the Ecuador case
TRUTH: Donziger’s extortionate pressure campaign continues to this day.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found, and the Second Circuit affirmed, that Donziger’s “pressure campaign” against Chevron constituted extortion and violated the Hobbs Act and RICO, because Donziger made allegations he knew to be false to exert pressure on Chevron. Donziger’s extortionate campaign “utilize[d] celebrities; nongovernmental organization[s] . . . ; the Ecuador government–executive, and Congress; national, international, and Ecuadorian press; a divestment campaign . . . to convince institutional investors to sell Chevron stock,” amongst other means. While Chevron’s longstanding position has been vindicated in court repeatedly, Donziger’s pressure campaign” has not ceased; it continues through baseless public attacks against Chevron predicated on the same false environmental and other allegations have been discredited in multiple courts and international tribunals.