The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ecuador's Prosecutor Says Studying Chevron Case

September 16, 2009

QUITO (Dow Jones)--Ecuador's state prosecutor, Diego Garcia, said Wednesday his office is studying whether to proceed with legal action in the U.S. against Chevron Corp. (CVX) in a case that stems from claims brought by indigenous groups against the oil company.

Ecuadorean Attorney General Washington Pesantez recently asked the prosecutor to start the legal action, saying that Chevron could be held accountable under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

"We are carrying out an analysis to determine if we will proceed or not in starting a process against Chevron, and if so, when it could proceed," Garcia said at a press conference.

Ecuadorean indigenous groups sued Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001, in the U.S. District Court in New York in 1993, alleging the company polluted the Amazon rain forest and rivers, causing damage to the environment and their health.

The U.S. court said the case should be resolved by an Ecuadorean court, and the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the small jungle city of Lago Agrio.

Chevron released recordings last month that it claims show Judge Juan Nunez, who presided over the Lago Agrio court where the trial is being held, affirming to two businessmen that he would hold the company responsible for environmental damages.

Kent Robertson, a media relations advisor for Chevron, when asked for a response to the prosecutor's comments, said in an email: "The announcement could be interpreted as an effort to deflect attention from the government of Ecuador's meddling in the Lago Agrio litigation and, more broadly, from the complete politicization of its judiciary."

At the press conference Garcia said that regardless of whether legal claims proceed in the U.S., Ecuador will continue to look into the case. Garcia said his office and that of the attorney general will work to ensure that the process is transparent.

Nunez has denied saying that a decision in the case had already been made and recused himself. The judge has said the videos were doctored, but Chevron said experts have confirmed their authenticity.

Robertson said: "Chevron had no involvement in the videotapings and referred this matter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Ecuador's Prosecutor General after taking every reasonable effort to verify the evidence presented."

In 1998, following a $40 million remediation program and based on a 1995 agreement between Texaco and state oil company Petroecuador, Ecuador's government released Texaco and its related companies from any claims and liabilities regarding cleanup efforts.

The plaintiffs say the agreement didn't release the company from third-party claims.

Chevron blames Petroecuador for most of the pollution and says the state oil company never fulfilled its responsibility to remediate its share of the venture's production sites.

No comments:

Post a Comment