Ecuador Monkey Business (Chevron Update)

by Jack Fowler

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Chevron and Ecuador (see here and here, which don’t come close to the clarity found in my esteemed colleague Kevin Williamson’s reporting), and now seems a good time for an update. Some quick background: A bunch of U.S. attorneys, bankrolled by various investors, and in cahoots with the radical Chavez clones running Ecuador, sued Chevron for billions over alleged (bogus) oil-drilling environmental horrors there well over a decade ago. There is zero evidence this happened, and claims of the locals getting ill from the non-events are, obviously, bogus. It’s all been slow to come out, but out it comes, and the complex and well-financed legal shakedown keeps running into mounting problems.

Among the most recent: Late last year, Ecuador’s “expert” — the engineer whose report justified the government’s claim to pick Chevron’s pockets –says his findings were rigged. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

An author and petroleum engineer who used to work for the lawyers suing Chevron has given the company a sworn statement in which he accuses his former colleagues of trying to dictate, in advance, the outcome of supposedly independent court reports on oil-field contamination in Ecuador.

The lawyers wanted ammunition that would force Chevron to clean up a portion of the Amazon rain forest where Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, used to drill for oil. But in his statement, engineer Fernando Reyes says three of the lawyers “acknowledged that the judicial inspection process had not yielded data to support their claims of contamination.”

Chevron has made the same accusations for years, arguing that the closely watched case has been hopelessly tainted by fraud.

And this month, Fortune reported that “Burford Capital, a $300 million publicly-traded fund that invests in lawsuits . . . accused representatives of the Ecuadorians who are suing Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, of having defrauded the firm into investing in their case two years ago.”

I shouldn’t be this naïve, but the fact that investment funds bankroll concocted international lawsuits against U.S. companies, as they say, for fun and profit, is disturbing. So no tears for Burford’s self-petard hoisting.

For Chevron’s take on this insane case, visit here.

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