Posted Sep 15, 2008 02:21 pm CDT
Ecuador has charged two lawyers for Chevron with a conspiracy to fraudulently certify an environmental cleanup of mines by its predecessor Texaco.
The accused lawyers are in-house lawyer Ricardo Reis Veiga and outside counsel Rodrigo Perez Pallares, the American Lawyer reports. Chevron issued a statement saying the indictments are related to civil litigation over the cleanup of mines near the rainforest and are an attempt by the government to evade an agreement to indemnify Chevron for civil liability.
Texaco was originally sued in the environmental tort case in federal court in Manhattan, but the company got the case dismissed on the ground that Ecuadorean courts could handle the litigation, the story says. After the case was refiled in Ecuador, a special master found that the company’s liability was between $7.2 billion and $16.3 billion; a judge has not yet assessed damages.
“The politically motivated indictments mark a renewal of the Ecuadorean state’s attempts to disavow contractual obligations owed to Chevron from contracts signed in 1995 and 1998,” the company said in a statement. “Recent events in Ecuador leave no doubt that there is improper collaboration between the government and plaintiffs lawyers.”
A lawyer for Ecuador, C. MacNeil Mitchell of Winston & Strawn, told the American Lawyer that the company’s attempt to link the indictments to the civil suit are part of its “game plan” to avoid paying a civil judgment by claiming the court system is corrupt.