Imagine being sued in a third-world country with a leftist government and you're a major international corporation with deep pockets. Sounds like you might have a deck stacked against you, right?
Back in May, CBS's "60 Minutes" aired a one-sided segment that could be viewed as nothing short of serving as an accomplice in $27-billion extortion effort by a leftist Latin American government against Chevron (NYSE:CVX). The segment was about a lawsuit filed by the Amazon Defense Coalition (ADC), a group described as "eco-radicals," who are trying to squeeze $27 billion from Chevron for environmental cleanup that Ecuador's government signed off on more than a decade ago.
The ADC maintains it was working on behalf of 30,000 villagers, although there were only 48 named plaintiffs, to win funds for so-called environmental damage in Ecuador's rain forest from then-Texaco Petroleum's (Texpet) operation of oil well sites. A subsequent May 15 New York Times story followed, but neither CBS nor the Times gave much credence to the possibility of corruption in the Ecuadorian courts.
However, Chevron has since uncovered video recordings that reveal a $3-million bribery scheme possibly implicating the judge presiding over the environmental lawsuit. Also mentioned in the video were individuals identified themselves as representatives of the Ecuadorian government and its ruling party. In the videos obtained by Chevron, the judge hearing the case, Juan Núñez, admitted he will rule against Chevron and that appeals by the energy company will ultimately be denied.
However, beyond the questions of getting a fair hearing in Ecuador, which has been ignored by much of the American media coverage of the case, there are more serious findings of potential criminal wrongdoing. According the Washington, D.C.-based Jones Day representing Chevron, the newly discovered evidence has more serious potential criminal implications, involving bribes.
One part of video also show an individual who claims to be a representative of Ecuador's ruling political party, Alianza PAIS, seeking $3 million in bribes in return for handing out environmental remediation contracts to two businessmen after the verdict is handed down. Of that $3 million, $1 million would go to Núñez, $1 million to "the presidency" and $1 million to the plaintiffs.
Queries to "60 Minutes" about the new evidence and whether or not it would make its viewers aware of this after the fact have gone unanswered as of the morning of Sept. 1. The video evidence compiled by Chevron can be seen in it's entirety at http://www.chevron.com/ecuador/.