Colorado Firm Disavows Work on Behalf of Plaintiff in $19 Billion ‘Shakedown’ Lawsuit in Ecuador

Officials with Boulder, Colo.-based Stratus Consulting Inc. announced Thursday they had been misled by Steven Donziger, the lead attorney in the $19 billion “rainforest shakedown” lawsuit against Chevron.  The text of their stunning news release appears below:

CRUDE_Outtakes

Steven Donziger

Stratus Consulting Inc. announced today that Chevron has dismissed with prejudice the fraud and racketeering claims against Stratus and two of its employees that were initiated by Chevron Corp. on February 1, 2011 in the U.S. District Court of New York. Stratus is pleased that these claims have been fully and finally resolved.

Chevron Logo

Click to read Chevron’s News Release 4-12-2013.

Chevron’s lawsuit alleged racketeering and fraud claims against Steven Donziger, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, Stratus, and others relating to the long-running environmental trial against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. That trial resulted in an approximately $19 billion judgment against Chevron. Prior to the judgment, Stratus had been retained by Donziger, on behalf of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, to serve as an environmental consultant. Stratus’s environmental consulting work for Donziger was used in a report submitted to the Ecuadorian court by the supposedly “independent” court expert Richard Cabrera as part of a process that Stratus has learned was tainted by Donziger and the Lago Agrio plaintiffs representatives’ “behind the scenes activities.”

Cabrera-Moncayo Photo“Stratus believes that the damages assessment in the Cabrera Report and the entire Cabrera process were fatally tainted and are not reliable. Stratus disavows the Cabrera Report, has agreed to cooperate fully and to provide testimony about the Ecuador litigation.”

“Stratus deeply regrets its involvement in the Ecuador litigation. We are delighted to have this matter behind us.”

Thursday’s news came almost 27 months after I published an exclusive story about Stratus Consulting’s role in the lawsuit and, in so doing, scooped The New York Times by 100 days.  Am I alone in thinking this news should serve as the proverbial “nail in the coffin” of the corruption-filled lawsuit against Chevron that began almost 20 years ago?  No.  The folks at BusinessWeek seem to have reached the same conclusion.

FYI:  I’ve written and published nearly 60 pieces related to this lawsuit since April 22, 2009.  Hopefully, this will be one of the last pieces I have to write.

UPDATE 4/12/2013 at 10:24 a.m. Central:  Chevron issued a news release this morning in which Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel, said, “We are pleased that Stratus came forward to reveal the truth.  We call on others with knowledge of the fraud tainting the trial in Ecuador to come forward and do the right thing.”  Read the rest of the news release here.

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Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Ecuadoran Judge Admits Being Bribed in Chevron Shakedown

It seems as if big developments in the case of “Chevron v. the Rainforest Scam Artists” are occurring every nine months.  Today is no exception.

Nine months after my last report, Chevron Continues Fighting Fraudulent Ecuador Lawsuit, I received news that a former Ecuadorian judge has acknowledged his direct involvement in orchestrating a fraudulent judgment against Chevron Corporation in the environmental trial against the company in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.  Not your ordinary legal judgment, this one was set to cost the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil giant $18 billion if allowed to proceed.

Here’s the “nuts and bolts” of today’s news:

In a sworn declaration filed today in New York federal court, Alberto Guerra, who presided over the case when it was first filed in 2003, reveals that he was paid thousands of dollars by the plaintiffs’ lawyers and a subsequent judge, Nicholas Zambrano, for illegally ghostwriting judicial orders issued by Zambrano and steering the case in the plaintiffs’ favor.  Guerra, who is no longer a judge, attests that the plaintiffs’ lawyers were permitted to draft the $18 billion judgment in their own favor after they promised to pay Zambrano a $500,000 bribe out of the judgment’s enforcement proceeds, and that Guerra then reviewed the plaintiffs’ lawyers draft for Zambrano before the judge issued it as his own.

Simply because he’s been in the news a lot lately for his idiotic position on gun ownership in the United States, I decided to revisit more than three-dozen posts I’ve published on this topic since April 22, 2009, and focus your attention on several in which I highlighted Gov. Mario Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) ties to this ugly litigation.  Dating back to his days as the Empire State’s attorney general, they appear below:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)

Chevron Seeks Docs From Cuomo Administration – Chevron submitted to the office of the New York State Comptroller a request under New York’s Freedom of Information Law for documents regarding connections between the Comptroller’s office and plaintiffs’ representatives in the long-running lawsuit involving the oil giant in Ecuador.

Amazon Defense Coalition PR Hack Once Worked for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo – Yes, thanks to the capabilities of a well-known search engine, I was able to pinpoint the reason which then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo might be so interested in helping the Amazon Defense Coalition in its lawsuit against Chevron Corporation.

NY AG Cuomo Tries to ‘FOIL’ Blogger’s Efforts – In a May 28 Freedom of Information Law (a.k.a., “FOIL”) request filed with Cuomo’s office, I asked for “copies of all paper and electronic correspondence between Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and any and all representatives of the Amazon Defense Coalition with whom he communicated during the past 12 months.” Seven days later, I received a reply from Amy C. Karp, an assistant counsel in Cuomo’s office.  Karp informed me that “the Office of the Attorney General has conducted a diligent search and does not possess any records” of contact with representatives of ADC, the over-the-top-zealous group behind a $27 billion class-action lawsuit filed against the nation’s second-largest oil company 16 years ago.

NY Freedom of Information Law Put to Test – Barely three weeks after New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, sent an inflammatory and provocative letter to Chevron Corporation’s David J. O’Reilly, I sent a communication of my own. To Cuomo’s office.  That’s right, I decided to put the State of New York’s Freedom of Information Law (a.k.a., “FOIL”) to the test.

To read more about this latest development in the Chevron lawsuit in Ecuador, click here.

To read my coverage of the lawsuit against Chevron, click here.

"Three Days In August" Promotional PhotoBob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, The CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon was released May 2013.

Chevron Continues Fighting Fraudulent Ecuador Lawsuit

Nine months after I reported that the shakedown in the rain forest was nearing an end and more than a year after I scooped The New York Times with my report about Colorado-based Stratus Consulting‘s involvement in the fraudulent lawsuit being waged against Chevron Corporation in Ecuador, it appears the plaintiffs in the case have resorted to desperation in an effort to drag the case closer toward its 20th year of litigation.

Chevron issued the following statement Wednesday in response to media reports that the plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking to have an Ecuadoran court’s fraudulent $18 billion judgment against the company recognized and enforced in Canada:

“The Ecuador judgment is a product of bribery, fraud, and it is illegitimate.  The company does not believe that the Ecuador judgment is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.

“If the plaintiffs’ lawyers believed in the integrity of their judgment, they would be seeking enforcement in the United States – where Chevron Corporation resides.  In the U.S., however, the plaintiffs’ lawyers would be confronted by the fact that seven federal courts have already made findings under the crime/fraud doctrine about this scheme.

“Chevron will vigorously defend against any enforcement action.  Chevron will also continue to pursue relief against Ecuador in our pending arbitration and against the plaintiffs’ representatives in our RICO action pending in New York.”

The recently-released video below, from Chevron, offers a fair overview of the case.

If you’ve enjoyed the nearly six dozen posts I’ve published about the Chevron lawsuit in Ecuador since April 2009, you’ll want to pick up a copy of my first nonfiction book, “Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.” and get ready for my second book, “The CLAPPER MEMO,” due out this fall.

Video Sums Up ‘Fraudulent Case Against Chevron’

Almost one year ago, I published an exclusive post about how I had scooped The New York Times by 100 days with news about a Colorado company’s involvement in a mega-lawsuit related to Chevron Oil Company’s operations in Ecuador.  Though one of more than 50 posts I’ve written and published about the legal battle since April 2009, that post stands as one of only six pieces I’ve written during the past 12 months.

Now that my first book has been published and I have a bit more time available, I feel compelled to bring my readers up to speed about what has transpired in this case during the past six months.  The easiest way to do that is by sharing the video, The Fraudulent Case Against Chevron in Ecuador- An Introduction to Aguinda v. Chevron, above.

After watching this video, please share it with anyone you think might get a kick out of seeing trial lawyers apparently caught with their hands in the proverbial “cookie jar.”

Be sure to check out Bob McCarty’s new book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.

Chevron Seeks Docs From Cuomo Administration

On Friday, according to this post, Chevron submitted to the office of the New York State Comptroller a request under New York’s Freedom of Information Law for documents regarding connections between the Comptroller’s office and plaintiffs’ representatives in the long-running $113 billion shakedown lawsuit involving the oil giant in Ecuador.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)

Chevron is seeking documents under FOIL, according to the post, in order to shed further light on the assistance provided by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, to the plaintiffs’ lawyers and consultants involved in the fraudulent litigation against Chevron. Documentary evidence obtained through U.S. court-ordered discovery reveals a connection between financial contributions made by the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ representatives and the Comptroller’s issuance of official public statements in support of the plaintiffs.

A copy of Chevron’s FOIL request may be downloaded here along with supporting documentation at here and here.

Loyal readers of this blog know that I was on the same track two years ago.

On May 28, 2009, I put New York’s Freedom of Information Law to the test, requesting copies of all paper and electronic correspondence between Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and any and all representatives of the Amazon Defense Coalition with whom he communicated during the past 12 months.

Seven days later, I received a reply from Amy C. Karp, an assistant counsel in Cuomo’s office.  Karp informed me that “the Office of the Attorney General has conducted a diligent search and does not possess any records” of contact with representatives of ADC, the over-the-top-zealous group behind the class-action lawsuit filed against the nation’s second-largest oil company 18 years ago.

Returning to the present day, it will be interesting to see whether New York state officials respond to Chevron the same way they responded to me.

Stay tuned!

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Shakedown in the Rain Forest Nears End in Court, my most-recent piece about the Chevron-Ecuador lawsuit, offers a good recap of the lawsuit to date.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Follow me on Twitter @BobMcCarty. Thanks in advance for your support!

Shakedown in the Rain Forest Nears End in Court

Though a hearing to determine the enforceability of a $96 million ruling in favor of Chevron will take place in New York City in November, I fully expect that my days of reporting on this story of bribery, corruption and kangaroo courting will come to an end soon.  That in mind, it seems appropriate to offer a recap of my extensive coverage of the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil giant’s long-running battle with the corrupt dictatorship in Ecuador.  For starters, I share the overview video below about the case which centers on a bogus environmental lawsuit that grew from $27 billion to $113 billion in potential liability for Chevron:

Next, I share links to the best of the 56 posts I’ve published about the case since April 22, 2009:

2011

May 3, 2011 – Biased Reporter to Anchor ‘CBS Evening News’

April 28, 2011 — I Scooped The New York Times by 100 Days!

Feb. 14, 2011 — Ecuadoran Judge Rules Against Chevron

Feb. 11, 2011 — Plaintiffs Behind $113 Billion ‘Shakedown’ Lawsuit Against Chevron on Verge of Being Labeled ‘Losers’

Feb. 3, 2011 — Ecuadoran Government Officials Play Key Roles in $113 Billion Shakedown Lawsuit Against Chevron

Jan. 21, 2011 — Company That Earned Millions from Gulf Cleanup Tangled in Suit That Could Cost Chevron $113B

2010

Nov. 9 — CBS News Fails to Offer Updates on $113 Billion Lawsuit Against Chevron in Ecuador – Why?

Nov. 8 — Attorney Fails to Persuade Judge in $113B Lawsuit

Nov. 3 — ‘CRUDE’ Excerpts Reveal Much About Filmmaker, Plaintiffs in Lawsuit Against Chevron in Ecuador

Oct. 21 — Judge: Chevron Can Question, Obtain Evidence From Plaintiff Attorney in $113B Ecuador Lawsuit

Oct. 14 — Biased Media Outlets Ignore ‘CRUDE’ Outtakes

Sept. 23 — Sixteen Months of Reporting Validated by Major Media Reports About Chevron-Ecuador Lawsuit

Aug. 3 — ‘Crude’ Footage Reveals Lies Behind Trial Lawyers’ $27B Lawsuit Against Chevron in Ecuador

May 24 — Chevron Alleges More Wrongdoing in Ecuador

May 6 — Chevron Request for ‘CRUDE’ Footage Approved

May 5 — Chevron Accuses Plaintiff of Lying in $27B Lawsuit

April 12 — University of Illinois Alums Honor Ecuadoran Crook

Apriil 5 — Plaintiffs’ Expert Reveals Fraud in Ecuador Lawsuit

March 30 — Chevron Wins Arbitration Claim Against Ecuador

March 2 — Expert Says Bribery Video ‘Authentic and Unaltered’

Feb. 9 — Conflict of Interest in $27B Suit Against Chevron

Jan. 26  — Report Bolsters Support for Chevron in Ecuador

2009

Dec. 18 — I’ve Been Trashed by the Huffington Post

Oct. 30 — New Post Highlights ‘Web of Influence’ Entangling Chevron Corporation in Bogus Ecuador Lawsuit

Oct. 26 — Massachusetts Congressman Blasts Chevron

Oct. 15 — Lobbyist’s Disclosure Documents Raise Serious Questions in Chevron-Ecuador Lawsuit

Sept. 17 — Proving Amazon Watch, Others Wrong Too Easy

Sept. 7 – Chevron Provides More Evidence of $3 Million Bribery Scheme to Government Officials in Ecuador

Sept. 2 — Chevron Officials Welcome News of Investigation

Aug. 31 — Amazon Defense Coalition Responds to Allegations of Bribery by Accusing Chevron of ‘Dirty Tricks’

Aug. 31 — Transcript: Ecuadoran Officials Caught on Tape Seeking $3 Million in Return for Favorable Ruling

Aug. 31 — Scandal Erupts in Chevron-Ecuador Environmental Lawsuit; $3MM Bribery Scheme Caught on Tape!

July 2 — Source: Attorneys for Plaintiff in Chevron Lawsuit Visit Palace of Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa

June 19 — What Does Allen Stanford Have in Common with Amazon Defense Coalition? Lobbyist Ben Barnes

June 13 — Is Andrew Cuomo Liar, Incompetent or Both?

June 11 — What Will Be The Outcome of the Amazon Defense Coalition’s Lawsuit Against Chevron in Ecuador?

June 5 — NY AG Cuomo Tries to ‘FOIL’ Blogger’s Efforts

June 2 — NY Freedom of Information Law Put to Test

May 27 — Did Amazon Defense Coalition Violate Terms of Logan Act While Waging Chevron Lawsuit?

May 26 — ‘No Good Deed Goes Unpunished’ (Part 2 of 2)

May 26 — ‘No Good Deed Goes Unpunished’ (Part 1 of 2)

May 26 — Following the Money Difficult in Ecuador Lawsuit

May 21 — Blogger Offers ‘Definitive Guide’ to Environmental Lawsuit on Eve of Chevron Shareholders Meeting

May 4 — Blogger Targeted by ‘Spin’ in $27 Billion Lawsuit

April 22 — Blogger Investigating $27 Billion Lawsuit Against Chevron, Sending Correspondent to Ecuador

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Follow me on Twitter @BloggingMachine. Thanks in advance for your support!

Chevron Awarded $96 Million in Arbitration Claim Against Corrupt Government of Ecuador

After publishing more than three-dozen posts since April 22, 2009, about the $113 billion environmental lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador, I can finally report good news for truth, justice and the American way:  An international arbitration tribunal has awarded Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company $96 million in a claim against Ecuador related to past oil operations by Texaco Petroleum, which is now a Chevron subsidiary.

Below is the text of the entire news release about this legal victory, courtesy of Chevron [Note:  Click on any of the graphics I've sprinkled in the news release below to read some of my best pieces about this case]:

An international arbitration tribunal has awarded Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company $96 million in a claim against Ecuador related to past oil operations by Texaco Petroleum, which is now a Chevron subsidiary.  The tribunal, administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, found that Ecuador’s courts violated international law through their significant delays in ruling on certain commercial disputes between Texaco Petroleum and the Ecuadorian government.  The final award also takes into account taxes, compound interest, and costs associated with the preliminary award announced in March 2010.

Chevron and Texaco Petroleum filed the international arbitration case in December 2006 under the Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).  The Permanent Court of Arbitration is an intergovernmental organization with over one hundred member countries established by international convention in 1899 to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution.  The United States acceded to the Court’s founding convention in 1900 and Ecuador acceded in 1907.

The decision by the arbitration tribunal resolves seven commercial claims that Texaco Petroleum filed in Ecuador between 1991 and 1993.  Ecuadorian courts continually delayed and refused to rule on the seven cases, which the tribunal determined was a violation of Ecuador’s obligation under its Bilateral Investment Treaty with the United States to provide effective means for U.S. investors in Ecuador to assert claims and enforce their rights.

“This ruling confirms that Ecuador can be held accountable for its obligations under international law,” said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel.  “Since Ecuador’s politicized court system has failed to provide impartial tribunals and due process, Chevron has had to seek international remedies.  Chevron will continue to pursue enforcement of the agreements entered into by Ecuador and its state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, when they were members of a producing consortium with Texaco Petroleum.”

The Treaty arbitration tribunal is not alone in highlighting the Ecuadorian courts’ failure to provide justice.  In April 2011, the United States Department of State released its human rights report for Ecuador which states, “The media reported on the susceptibility of the judiciary to bribes for favorable decisions and resolution of legal cases and on judges parceling out cases to outside lawyers, who wrote the judicial sentences and sent them back to the presiding judge for signature.”  Likewise, the World Bank’s latest Worldwide Governance Indicators ranked Ecuador below the 10th percentile of all countries surveyed with respect to the rule of law, placing it behind North Korea.

Recent events in Ecuador demonstrate the continuing deterioration and political subjugation of the justice system there:

  • After a leading Ecuadorian newspaper, El Universo, ran an opinion column critical of President Rafael Correa, an Ecuadorian judge—at Correa’s insistence—sentenced three newspaper executives and the columnist to jail for three years and fined the newspaper $40 million.
  • According to The Economist, “It took Juan Paredes, replacing the intended judge who was on holiday, less than two days to read through the case’s 5,000-page file” and issue the ruling.  President Correa personally attended the hearing, “accompanied by a small crowd of supporters that pelted the defendants and their lawyers with eggs and bottles outside the courthouse.  The media were barred from attending.”  International observers, including Human Rights Watch, called the ruling “a major setback for free speech in Ecuador.”
  • President Correa’s Legal Secretary, Alexis Mera, issued an official proclamation, “by order of the Constitutional President of the Republic,” requiring Ecuadorian Government ministries to immediately file suits for damages holding any judge who enjoins Government projects personally liable if their injunctions are subsequently overturned by a higher court.

FYI:  Despite this ruling, the case isn’t quite over yet as a hearing to determine the enforceability of this ruling will take place in New York City in November.  Stay tuned!

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Follow me on Twitter @BloggingMachine. Thanks in advance for your support!