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Update: Chevron’s Dirty Tricks Campaign Coming to Light

October 15, 2009

As previously noted, oil giant Chevron continues in its attempts to evade responsibility for massive pollution caused by its operations in Ecuador. This week, a New York Times report outlined inconsistencies in Chevron’s story about a purported bribery scheme involving the Ecuadoran judge in the potential $27 billion lawsuit.

The Times notes that, despite Chevron’s claims that video tapes showed the Judge Juan Nunez involved in negotiating a bribe, there is nothing in the tapes proving that any bribes were paid or even whether the judge was aware of plans to attempt to bribe him.

What is clear is that Ecuadoran authorities are angered by Chevron’s smear campaign. Ecuador’s Attorney General Washington Pesántez has suggested that Chevron should be investigated by the U.S. Justice Department for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlaws bribery of foreign officials. In 2007, Chevron paid a $30 million fine under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for illegal kickbacks the company paid to the Saddam Hussein government in Iraq. Documents in the case showed Chevron began using new trading partners with no prior record in the oil trading business to broker the illegal deals, and knowingly paid above market prices to cover-up the kickbacks.

Chevron has hired three public relations firms, Edelman Worldwide, Hill & Knowlton, and Sard, in its efforts to evade responsibility in Ecuador.

Also this week, Chevron and another company agreed to a $177,500 EPA fine for failure to meet clean water regulations relating to oil storage tanks near San Francisco Bay.

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