Ecuador plaintiffs seek Chevron payment worldwide

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2012 7:05 PM
Ecuador plaintiffs seek Chevron payment worldwide

Ecuadoreans who won a court judgment against U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. said Wednesday that they'll seek to collect billions of dollars through courts in other countries, including by confiscating the company's assets and freezing its international accounts.

An Ecuadorean court on Tuesday ratified a 2011 judgment penalizing Chevron for pollution that contaminated the Amazon rain forest more than two decades ago. The company denounced the ruling in a statement as "unenforceable in any court that observes the rule of law."

Chevron has also said it will seek legal recourse in courts outside of Ecuador.

Plaintiffs' attorney Pablo Fajardo said at a news conference Wednesday that his clients wouldn't "pardon a single cent from Chevron in this battle."

He noted that the original judgment was for $9.5 billion "but in the event Chevron doesn't publicly apologize, that amount is going to double."

"I hope Chevron publicly apologizes. I think that's the moral, ethical thing for Chevron to do," Fajardo said.

Chevron did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. The company has said the judgment amounts to about $18 billion.

Company spokesman Kent Robertson said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that "Chevron will resist any enforcement effort and seek to hold anyone who would attempt to enforce the fraudulent judgment in another jurisdiction accountable to the full extent of the law."

The San Ramon, California-based company has previously alleged fraud in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs have also accused Chevron of defrauding the Ecuadorean court to hide the scale of the oil contamination.

The lawsuit had 47 named plaintiffs and sought damages on behalf of about 30,000 people for environmental contamination and illnesses that allegedly resulted from the oil company Texaco's operation of an oil consortium from 1972 to 1990 in the rain forest. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.

The plaintiffs' lawyers wouldn't identify specific locations worldwide where they could pursue Chevron's assets.

"It's not going to be easy to enforce this judgment ... but we're going to try to do it," Fajardo said in a separate conference call with journalists. "There are still many obstacles we face."


AP writer Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.