The Supreme Court of Canada is considering Chevron’s request for leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal decision that allowed Ecuador plaintiffs to try again to collect their $18 billion pollution judgment in Ontario. Chevron argues that the case cannot be heard here, because there is no connection between the parties, the issues and Ontario. Justice Brown also ruled that the case could not succeed here, because Chevron (the Ecuador defendant) does not own any assets here; subsidiaries’ assets don’t belong to the parent company.
Meanwhile, a stunning, and damning, US decision has ruled that the original $18 billion Ecuador judgment (for oil pollution by Texaco) was obtained by fraud. That will create a serious challenge for our judges; how far should they go to hear the collection claim if the original judgment was fraudulent? And will they take the word of the US judge on this, or re-hear the entire issue themselves?
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corporation in Ecuador was the product of fraud and racketeering activity.
The nearly 500-page ruling finds that Steven Donziger, the lead American lawyer behind the Ecuadorian lawsuit against the company, violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), committing extortion, money laundering, wire fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in obtaining the fraudulent Ecuador judgment and in trying to cover up his and his associates’ crimes.
The court found that Donziger and his team “wrote the [Ecuadorian] court’s Judgment themselves and promised $500,000 to the Ecuadorian judge to rule in their favor and sign their judgment.” As 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. Indeed, one Ecuadorian legal team member, in a moment of panicky candor, admitted that if documents exposing just part of what they had done were to come to light, ‘apart from destroying the proceeding, all of us, your attorneys, might go to jail.’ It is time to face the facts.”