ECUADOR: Chevron Offers Evidence in Ecuador Bribery Case

Publisher Name: 
New York Times

The Chevron
Corporation said Monday that it gave Ecuadorean authorities videos and
e-mail messages it said provided evidence of a bribery scheme linked to
a $27 billion environmental damages lawsuit against the oil company.

Last week, the judge hearing the case, Juan Núñez, recused himself
just days after Chevron handed Ecuadorean and American authorities a
secretly recorded video of the magistrate talking of ruling against
Chevron later this year.

Ecuador's attorney general began investigating the bribery and
misconduct accusations against Mr. Núñez after Chevron said it would
ask for him to be disqualified from the case. The judge says he
committed no wrongdoing.

"In a letter to Ecuador authorities, the company asked that several
important points be examined by the investigation into the scheme,
which implicated the judge hearing the case, as well as ruling party
and government officials," the company said in a statement.

Chevron has complained before about government interference in the
16-year-old case, in which indigenous communities have accused Texaco,
bought by Chevron in 2001, of damaging the environment and their health
while operating petroleum facilities in the region.

An expert appointed by the Ecuadorean court said last year that
Chevron should pay around $27 billion, including more than $8 billion
in unjust enrichment.

Chevron said last week that the video, posted at the TexacoEcuador YouTube site,
shows a man at another meeting identifying himself as a representative
of Ecuador's ruling party and discussing a $3 million bribe for
contracts, of which Mr. Núñez would receive a third.

The plaintiffs have accused Texaco of dumping billions of gallons of
polluted water in the jungle around where they had lived for more than
two decades before the company left Ecuador in the early 1990s.

The Amazon Defense Coalition, a plaintiffs' group, said Friday that
Mr. Núñez's decision to recuse himself clears the path for the legal
proceedings to continue uninterrupted. But the group said the recusal
did not "change the overwhelming evidence against Chevron."

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