An Argentine court on Tuesday lifted a freeze on Chevron Corp.’s assets in the country, in the latest victory for the oil company in its long environmental pollution battle with Ecuador.
The asset freeze had been in effect since last November, when an Argentine judge ruled in favor of the Ecuadorean villagers who won a multibillion penalty against Chevron in 2011. But Argentina’s Supreme Court this week held that the company’s Argentine subsidiaries “have not participated in the case against [their parent company] and are legally distinct units,” the Associated Press reports.
In 2011, an Ecuadorean judge ruled that Texaco Corp., which Chevron acquired in 2001, had dumped billions of gallons of toxic drilling waste into the country’s rainforest while operating in the country in the 1970s and 1980s. The judge ordered Chevron to pay $19 billion in restitution for the pollution, which purportedly damaged the environment and sickened local villagers.
Because Chevron has no refineries, storage terminals or oil wells in Ecuador, the country has attempted to recoup the judgment from the company’s international subsidiaries. But those efforts have thus far met with little success. Prior to this week’s unfavorable ruling in Argentina, the plaintiffs also failed in their attempt to enforce the judgment in Canada, where a judge ruled that his country’s courts had no jurisdiction over the case.
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