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.

Wishing for a ‘One-Handed Economist’

President Harry Truman once wished for a “one-handed economist,” because he tired of hearing advisors giving him answers that were framed as “on the one hand, this” and “on the other hand, that.”  We are seeing something like that right now in a White House fretting over the prospect of rising energy and food prices negatively impacting President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.

President Harry S. Truman

On the one hand, President Obama has been aggressively critical of the nation’s oil and natural gas industry, demanding increased regulation and higher taxes on companies.

On the other hand, the president takes credit for the increase in natural gas and oil production in the country and says he’s doing all he can to increase output.

On the one hand, the nation requires an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy — as we heard the president say in his State of the Union remarks — which generally includes finding the best ways to maximize the benefits of using our own oil, natural gas and coal.

On the other hand, Obama blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would move oil from the burgeoning fields in Canada and North to U.S. refineries, Obama reversed President George W. Bush’s decisions to open Alaska and offshore areas for energy exploration and production, and Obama pushes cap-and-trade policies that discourage exploration for and use of abundant domestic energy resources.

Let’s be honest. The Obama Administration has failed us by turning energy companies into political piñatas and encouraging everyone to beat on them.

On the one hand, then-Senator Obama excoriated President Bush for promoting more drilling and he advocated imposing punitive taxes on oil companies.

On the other hand, he boasts — as if he had anything to do with it — that U.S. oil industry output these days is at an all-time high.  In reality, today’s domestic oil production is 20 percent higher than in 2008 because private companies shunned federal bailouts and risked their own capital to drill and pump, primarily on state and private lands.

On the one hand, President Obama takes credit for natural gas production increasing dramatically.

On the other, he ignores the fact that it was private companies — not government policymakers — who risked shareholders’ capitol to create tens of thousands of jobs while developing new gas reserves using the latest high-tech hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies.  Talk about being “shovel-ready” projects!

Look around!  Our growing population requires ever-increasing amounts of energy to support everyday living in this world full of “iffy” situations:

If we want factories to rev up output, we must make plenty of affordable sources of energy available;

If we want lower taxes, we need an economy that grows with vigor; and

If we want to pursue pathways toward affordable, sustainable “green energy,” we must keep the existing economic engine running strong so that we don’t find our “vehicles of commerce” idling on the side of the road for lack of fuel.

“Tanks” — as in “gas tanks” — in advance for voting wisely in 2012.

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

Barack Obama Costs Nation Another 20,000 Jobs

By Paul R. Hollrah, Guest Blogger

On April 11, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had a telephone conversation with National Labor Relations Board acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, a recent Barack Obama appointee.  According to a Solomon file note obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the watchdog group, Judicial Watch, Graham warned of what would happen if the NLRB proceeded with efforts to block the Boeing Company from producing its new Dreamliner aircraft in new facilities at Charleston, S.C.

According to Solomon’s file note, “He (Graham) said that if a complaint was filed, it will be ‘nasty, very, very nasty.’   He said that this was a case of how not to grow the economy…”

The NLRB ignored Graham’s warnings and on April 20 the agency alleged that Boeing was expanding Dreamliner production in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, in retaliation for past strikes by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers at their Seattle plants.   It was a serious blow to South Carolina workers who saw as many as 3,800 good-paying jobs disappear at the hands of Barack Obama and his AFL-CIO puppet masters.

Two days later, Solomon joked about the furor created by the complaint against Boeing.  In an email to an agency associate, commenting on a European news article that criticized the NLRB action, Solomon said, “The article gave me a new idea.  You go to Geneva and I get a job with Airbus.  We screwed up the U.S. economy, and now we can tackle Europe.”

Some 3,800 Boeing workers in South Carolina, present and future, were not so amused.  Rarely has the free world witnessed such blatant fascism in the years since Hitler’s Third Reich.

Now, on Nov. 10, Obama has doubled down on his job-killing efforts with a State Department decision to postpone work on the US-Canadian Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 General Election.  The proposed 36” diameter pipeline would carry much-needed heavy crude oil from the Athabasca Tar Sands region of Alberta Province, in Canada, to refineries in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Texas.

The reason for the delay… which finds Obama with his “most sensitive private parts” caught squarely between the labor unions, who want to see the 20,000 jobs created, and the radical environmentalists, who will use any excuse to damage or destroy the U.S. economy… is a totally unfounded concern that the pipeline might pollute the Ogallala aquifer.

The Ogallala is one of the world’s largest aquifers, covering an area of approximately 174,000 square miles in portions of eight states:  Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.  About 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the U.S. is drawn from the Ogallala, as well as drinking water for about 82 percent of the people who live within the aquifer’s 174,000 square mile boundary.

In responding to Obama’s action, House Speaker John Boehner said, “By punting on this project, the president has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions… at the expense of American jobs.  The current project has already been deemed environmentally sound, and calling for a new route is nothing but a thinly-veiled attempt to avoid upsetting (his) political  base before the election.  It is a failure of leadership.”

“The production of American-made energy has a direct link to American job creation,” Boehner continued.  “That’s why House Republicans will soon introduce and pass jobs legislation that ties the permanent expansion of American energy production to an increase in new infrastructure projects.  Today is another reminder that the President’s energy policy is destroying American jobs while Republicans are focused on using American resources to put people back to work.”

In a public statement in support of the decision, Obama said he supported the delay, “Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood.”

Bullroar!  No one but a “community organizer” from the south side of Chicago would make such a totally nonsensical statement, and do it with a straight face.  Questions have been raised about Obama’s I.Q., which he has sealed under Executive Order.  However, if his reasoning underlying this decision is any measure, we must assume that his I.Q. must be somewhere south of 100, and I challenge him to prove otherwise.

The project cannot affect the health and safety of the American people or the environment.  However, postponing the project does affect the health and safety of the American people because of the jobs it will kill… because of the family units that will be destroyed because of extended unemployment and the homes that will be lost to foreclosure.

What is also disconcerting about the decision is that Obama lacked the courage to announce the decision over his own signature. Instead, he had the decision announced by the State Department so that he could hide behind Hillary skir… er, polyester pants suits (made from petroleum derivatives).  Since when does the U.S. State Department exercise control over domestic energy and infrastructure projects?

Obama and those around him are apparently of the opinion that the laying of 1,661 miles of underground steel pipe, 36 inches in diameter, is a “cutting edge” undertaking, a project that must be evaluated by his team of advisors, none of whom have any real world experience and are experts at absolutely nothing.

The facts are these.  The United States currently has some 485,000 miles of petroleum-related pipeline in service.  This includes some 300,000 miles of natural gas pipeline, with an additional 5,473 miles of pipeline on the drawing board; 55,000 miles of 8” to 24” diameter crude oil trunk lines; 30,000 to 40,000 miles of 2” to 6” diameter oil field gathering lines; and some 95,000 miles of 8” to 42” diameter refined products pipelines.

It is a major industry, and because the pipelines are essentially all underground, most Americans are totally unaware of their existence.  The people who run the pipelines know what they are doing and they have an almost flawless environmental and safety record.

The Ogallala aquifer ranges in thickness from just a few feet to more than 1,000 feet.  In terms of depth, the aquifer lies from a minimum of 100 feet beneath the ground surface to as much as 400 feet.  Again, no one but a “community organizer” from Chicago could possibly imagine that a rare leak from the Keystone XL pipeline, carrying highly viscous heavy crude oil, could saturate the soil beyond five or ten feet from the leak source.  To conclude otherwise requires a willing suspension of reason.  There is literally no possibility that the Keystone XL pipeline could ever pollute the Ogallala aquifer.

As an indicator of the unmitigated stupidity of the decision, the p of the Laborers’ International Union, Terry O’Sullivan, made the following statement on Thursday, Nov. 10.  He said, “Environmentalists formed a circle around the White House and within days the Obama Administration chose to inflict a potentially fatal delay to a project that is not just a pipeline, but is a lifeline for thousands of desperate working men and women. The Administration chose to support environmentalists over jobs.  Job-killers win, American workers lose.

“Environmental groups from the Natural Resources Defense Council to the Sierra Club may be dancing in the streets, having delayed and possibly stopped yet another project that would put men and women back to work.  While they celebrate, pipeline workers will continue to lose their homes and livelihoods.  We had hoped the decision would have been made on the basis of economics, facts, and the best interests of the nation, not on the basis of a political calculation.”

When the leader of a major international labor union suggests that “economics, facts, and the best interests of the nation” should be the principal criteria in the development of a business enterprise, we know that Obama has truly turned the world upside down.  Economics, facts, and the national interest have never been of concern to labor bosses.

It remains to be seen whether Obama’s decision will stand.  As the jobs picture worsens and as the Canadians make overtures toward selling their Athabasca crude to the Chinese, it is difficult to see how he can stand by his decision.  And when he reverses himself on the pipeline decision and is forced to fire his recent appointee to the NLRB, he will do major damage to his radical left base… environmentalists and labor unions… further sealing his fate in November 2012.

Nothing could be of greater benefit to the nation than to provide further proof that Obama is an incompetent fool, masquerading as President of the United States.  That proof is now before us.

Paul R. Hollrah

Hollrah is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a contributing editor for Family Security Matters and a number of online publications.  He resides in northeast Oklahoma.

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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!