Caso Chevron

Green Floyd: Roger Waters and the Great Green Chevron Scam

A rock star, an aide to Andrew Cuomo, journalists, and Ecuadoran government officials had stakes in a shakedown of the oil company. It almost worked.

National Review - Kevin D. Williamson 30/10/2018

Roger Waters performs in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2017. Photo: National Review

Roger Waters performs in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2017. Photo: National Review

The slow unraveling of the case against Chevron has been eye-opening, not least for the glimpse it offers into the way money moves through the progressive activist world.

The background: Chevron was accused of inflicting horrible suffering on the people of Ecuador through mismanagement of drilling operations there, contaminating the groundwater and exposing thousands of people, mostly in nearby indigenous communities, to a stew of toxic sludge. The most obvious problem with the case was that Chevron had never drilled for oil in Ecuador; it acquired Texaco, which had done so years before, in partnership with the Ecuadoran state oil company. At the conclusion of its operations, Texaco received a formal certification from the government of Ecuador that it had cleaned up after itself (at a cost of about $40 million) and that it was released from further liability for the operations, which were continued by the state oil company. Like many state oil companies, Ecuador’s had at times been something less than scrupulous in its observance of environmental standards. Its operations are likely the source of the pollution in Ecuador.

But American lawyer Steven Donziger, an old basketball buddy of Barack Obama’s, managed to obtain a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadoran court. Chevron complained that this judgment was the product of corruption, that Donziger et al. had falsified evidence, paid off allegedly neutral experts, bribed judges, and more. Chevron took those complaints to court in the United States and was successful.

More than successful, in fact: In 2014, Chevron won a racketeering verdict against Donziger under the RICO statute, with the judge finding that the case had been in essence a grand act of extortion executed through bribery, money laundering, and coercion. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in his opinion is flabbergasted, describing plaintiffs’ misdeeds that

include things that normally come only out of Hollywood — coded emails among Donziger and his colleagues describing their private interactions with and machinations directed at judges and a court-appointed expert, their payments to a supposedly neutral expert out of a secret account, a lawyer who invited a film crew to innumerable private strategy meetings and even to ex parte meetings with judges, an Ecuadorian judge who claims to have written the multibillion-dollar decision but who was so inexperienced and uncomfortable with civil cases that he had someone else (a former judge who had been removed from the bench) draft some civil decisions for him, an 18-year-old typist who supposedly did Internet research in American, English, and French law for the same judge, who knew only Spanish, and much more.

After a lengthy exploration of bribery, money laundering, and other corruption, Judge Kaplan concludes: “The decision in the Lago Agrio case was obtained by corrupt means. The defendants here may not be allowed to benefit from that in any way. The order entered today will prevent them from doing so.”

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