Now that their funders have abandoned them, Steven Donziger’s team is turning to the government of Ecuador to fund their fraudulent scheme.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. this week rejected Ecuador’s challenge to an arbitral award, leaving the Republic in debt to Chevron to the tune of $106 million for commercial claims dating back to the 1990s.
Donziger’s team is demanding that rather than fulfill its legal obligation to Chevron, the Ecuadorian government should turn the money over to them instead. In a deliberately misleading press release this week, they allege they would use the money for “environmental reparation.” Donziger’s Ecuadorian lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, claims they are owed the money as a result of an embargo order issued by an Ecuadorian provincial court in 2012.
There are several problems with their latest ploy.
The arbitral award, granted in 2011 and upheld now by five separate courts in the U.S. and the Netherlands, is fully enforceable under international law and specifically the United States, as evidenced by the latest affirmation. It doesn’t matter what money the Ecuadorian state gifts to Donziger’s team, it will still owe at least $106 million to Chevron.
Secondly, the lawyers’ own internal documents belie their claim that money would be used for environmental clean-up. Those documents, including financing agreements that prioritize their obligations and set out their agreed-upon “waterfall” for distributing any lawsuit proceeds, reveal that any money received would first get paid to the investors and lawyers. Additionally, their commitment to environmental remediation of the Amazon is disingenuous given the fact that they previously demanded Ecuador’s state-owned oil company stop its remediation program for fear it would hurt their fraudulent case against Chevron.
Finally, by failing to pay its debt to Chevron, Ecuador would be in breach of its international treaty obligations as well as public commitments made since 2012 by the country’s lawyers and Ecuadorian government officials, including former ambassador to the U.S. Nathalie Cely.
Once again, Donziger’s team is using the people of the Ecuadorian Amazon and continuing to perpetuate a fraud in an attempt to enrich themselves.