Chevron is trying to bankrupt the lawyer that defended Ecuador’s Indigenous communities against the oil company in a billion dollar case for polluting the country’s Amazon rainforest for years, according to CRS News and based on legal documents.
Attorney Steven Donziger said Chevron attempted to harass him and collect US$33 million through lawsuits, demanding several fees for alleged “illegal and unethical” work.
“The bottom line is that Chevron CEO John Watson is furious that the Indigenous groups his company poisoned beat him in court, so he ordered this retaliation against me in the United States given that I am one of their lawyers,” Donziger said to CRS.
“I’m a surrogate for attacks against thousands of vulnerable Indigenous people in Ecuador whom Chevron refuses to compensate for causing life-threatening harm, despite court orders that it do so,” he explained.
Ecuador won a US$12 billion case against the multinational corporation, after an eight-year trial.
Donziger said this was “part of an intimidation model designed to thwart legitimate advocacy and more broadly to deter other lawyers from taking cases that might result in significant liability for Chevron and the fossil fuel industry.”
In 2011, Chevron was found guilty of dumping waste into the land and water of the Ecuadorean Amazon, endangering the lives of thousand of people in remote Indigenous communities.
Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler blasted the oil giant and criticized the company’s own ethics.
“This tragic story reveals almost unthinkable corporate irresponsibility, intimidation, and arrogance, not just by Chevron executives, but by their 60 law firms, 2,000 lawyers and paralegals, six public relations firms, squads of private investigators, thugs and bribed witnesses, and at least one severely compromised U.S. judge,” Weyler said.
“Chevron has probably spent more money trying to weasel out of this case than any corporation in world history,” Weyler said. “If we sometimes wonder why significant ecological progress appears so monumentally difficult, this blood-curdling case will give us some clues.”
Chevron was also found to have paid over US$2 million to a witness, while a whistleblower published a video showing company officials covering up oil contamination in Ecuador.