March 1, 2018
Faced with a series of stunning legal setbacks in the world’s largest environmental case, Chevron is now trying to orchestrate what appears to be a politically-motivated disbarment of American human rights lawyer Steven Donziger after he helped indigenous and farmer communities win a $9.5 billion judgment against the company over the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic oil waste onto ancestral lands in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest.
The move comes at a time when Chevron is stepping up its attacks on the indigenous groups and their lawyers following three consecutive unanimous defeats in Canadian appellate courts – including one by Canada’s Supreme Court – in a country where the Ecuadorians are threatening to seize vital company assets to pay for their court-mandated clean-up. Just days ago, Chevron publicly attacked prominent Canadian attorney Alan Lenczner after he won the right to depose a high-level corporate official over what appear to be billions of dollars of irregular payments by the company’s Canadian subsidiary to the governments of Nigeria and Indonesia.
Chevron also recently lost an effort in the Ontario Court of Appeal to impose a $1 million costs order on the indigenous groups in an effort to prematurely end the asset seizure litigation. A three-judge panel unanimously criticized the company for trying to end-run the law rather than deal with credible allegations it had committed fraud both in Ecuador and the United States, all of which has a led to a criminal referral of the company to the U.S. Department of Justice.