Amazon Watch Refutes Claims They Conspired Against Chevron, Despite Video Evidence
The environmental group Amazon Watch has refuted claims that they conspired to pressure foreign judges to rule against Chevron in an environmental disaster case.
In January, as part of their annual award ceremony in Switzerland, Public Eye named Chevron the most irresponsible company. The energy giant was nominated by Amazon Watch for their involvement in an environmental incident in Northern Ecuador. Judges in the country found Chevron responsible for the disaster.
Chevron however has argued that Steven Donziger, the lead American trial lawyer in the lawsuit, and his legal team used illegal means to pressure the Judges in Ecuador of ruling against them. Chevron claims that outtakes from the movie “Crude”, which they were able to obtain through a subpoena in 2010, shows that the Donziger and his legal team conspired to manipulate the judges in the case.
“In the more than 500 hours of outtakes from the movie Crude produced, the plaintiffs’ lawyers and representatives were caught, amongst other things, planning to organize an ‘army’ to pressure, intimidate, and humiliate Judges in Ecuador,” a report from Chevron detailed. “Plaintiffs’ representatives even go as far as to discuss the possibility of a judge being killed if he ruled in favor of Texaco.”
The report notes that Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch appeared in some of the meetings and even asked, “you guys know if anybody can, uh, subpoena these videos,” when they were discussing the possibility of forming a private army.
Paul Paz y Miño, the director of outreach and online strategy for Amazon Watch, fired back at the claims arguing that the videos do not show the lawyers conspiring to commit illegal acts but rather create a group to keep an eye on the court to make sure Chevron does not pressure the judges.
“Chevron was already accused of putting pressure on the judges,” Miño tells The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Pointing to the video, Miño notes that the term “private army” was used more as a joke to refer to the group that was to make sure Chevron did not do anything illegal throughout the case. Miño also argues that their involvement in the case was merely because Chevron got them involved.
“We were never a party in the suit,” Miño argues. “Chevron used their legal might to draw us in.”
Additionally, Miño argues that their involvement with Public Eye was also limited and that the awards were not used to unfairly attacked Chevron.
“Amazon Watch was not on the selection committee,” Miño notes. “Amazon Watch nominated Chevron.”
After Chevron lost the case in Ecuador, they went to the U.S. courts to prove evidence provided in the previous trail was fraudulent. In March 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador was the product of fraud and racketeering activity.
Judge Lewis Kaplan stated in the court’s ruling, “The wrongful actions of Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team would be offensive to the laws of any nation that aspires to the rule of law, including Ecuador – and they knew it.”
“Kaplan for clearly biased towards Chevron,” Miño argues. “They wanted a case like this so they can tell the press there was fraud.”
Miño claims that Judge Kaplan, who own mutual stocks in Chevron, suggested that the company refute the Ecuador decision in his court. Miño also notes that the original case was fair and in fact, “was the most litigated case in Ecuadorian history.”
“For a lack of better terms they threw shit at the wall to see what stuck,” Miño continued. “With Judge Kaplan it did.”
Miño also notes that Judge Kaplan acted unfairly throughout the case in favor of Chevron. For instance, he allowed Chevron to bring in a paid witnessed.
Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesman for Chevron, argues that the claims presented by Amazon Watch are not based in fact.
“It is curious that Amazon Watch continues to support Steven Donziger and his fraudulent behavior, even as his friends and funders have abandoned his scheme,” Crinklaw tells TheDCNF. “Donziger and his few supporters continue to advance baseless claims unsupported by evidence. The 500-page judgment issued by a federal court last year details the fraud and misconduct that was carried out in an attempt to extort Chevron.”
On Monday, Chevron announced they reached a settlement with James Russell DeLeon, the principal financial backer of the lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador.
“Chevron brought claims against DeLeon in Gibraltar, where DeLeon maintains a residence, for his role in funding and advancing the fraudulent lawsuit,” a press release by Chevron notes. “In the settlement, DeLeon has resolved those claims by withdrawing financial support from the Ecuador litigation and assigning his interests in the litigation to Chevron.”
“Chevron, in turn, has agreed to release all claims against DeLeon,” the press release continued. “In filings with the Gibraltar court, DeLeon previously disclosed having invested approximately $23 million in the case in exchange for an approximate 7 percent stake in the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron.”
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