Chevron’s Shakedown

September 4, 2009

Chevron’s Shakedown


The Law: If there’s any doubt Ecuador’s $26 billion lawsuit against Chevron is nothing but a scam to shake down Big Oil, check out a new video of Ecuadorean operatives who prove how justice works in that country.

Read More: Latin America & Caribbean

Chevron, which has been battling the most expensive lawsuit in history from Ecuadorean environmental radicals, released a video Monday showing the “political coordinator” from Ecuador’s ruling party telling a couple of contractors that he’d be glad to get them contracts to remediate rain forest pollution — for a $3 million fee.

See, the fix was already in that an Ecuadorean judge would rule against Chevron on a $26 billion lawsuit. After that, the “remediation” gravy would flow. Nevermind that Ecuador’s state oil company created the pollution. It was already in the bag that the judge would make Chevron pay.

The $3 million the “political coordinator” of Ecuador’s ruling party tried to extort would be divided three ways: $1 million for the judge, $1 million for “the presidency” and $1 million for the plaintiffs — a radical group known as the Amazon Defense Coalition.

But little did the Ecuadoreans know, their mafioso way of getting paid so repelled the two contractors, Wayne Hansen and Diego Borja, that they recorded it.

We understand why — their 22-minute video showing the shakedown plays like a sleazy knockoff of “The Godfather.” One of the contractors, who had done work for Chevron in the past, gave it to the company. The film can now be seen by anyone who cares about the facts of the case (or who just likes mafia movies) at chevron.com/ecuador. “If this was in the Onion, it would be funny,” Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson told IBD.

But the tapes confirm three serious things: the Ecuadorean judge has already decided to rule against Chevron later this year, even before he’s heard the evidence; that he can no longer preside over this case; that the government, though not a party to the lawsuit, will benefit from the $26 billion jackpot; and that the judge can no longer credibly preside over the case; and that any appeal of the court’s decision would be, in the judge’s words on the video, “a formality.”

Whatever this is, it’s not justice.

The merits of Chevron’s case are irrelevant to Ecuador, whose judge is internationally recognized as the arbiter of the case. And the U.S. government’s passivity in this case is foolish. Chevron’s fate should be a lesson: Ecuador’s crooks will shake down American corporations for everything they have — and then some.

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