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Chevron seeks records of alleged bribes in Ecuadorian oil pollution suit

Company claims the country paid off an independent expert

Chevron Corp. is facing litigation in Brazil over environmental damages, but the company really does not want to own up to wrongdoing in Ecuador. A court ordered the company to pay $9 billion for oil pollution in Ecuador in February 2011, an amount that was raised to $18 billion when Chevron failed to publicly apologize. Then, Chevron’s GC was quoted as saying: "Throughout the course of this litigation, judges corruptly operating in concert with the plaintiffs' lawyers have created, rather than corrected, injustice."

Now, convinced of foul play on the part of the plaintiffs, the oil giant is seeking to force an Ecuadorian bank to release records of bribes that Ecuador allegedly paid to a court-appointed independent expert in the case.

The expert, Richard Cabrera, examined oil exploration pits owned by Texaco (which Chevron acquired in 2001) and determined that they had polluted the surrounding rainforest. Chevron now claims that Ecuador used the bank Banco Pichincha, which also has a branch in Miami, to pay Cabrera $360,000 and ensure a favorable outcome. However, releasing the records would violate Ecuadorian law and expose Banco Pichincha to civil and criminal lawsuits.

"This latest court action is nothing more than 11th hour hysteria by a company that has tried and will try every imaginable legal maneuver money can buy to deny justice to suffering people in the Ecuadorian rainforest," said plaintiff representative Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the Amazon Defense Coalition.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

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