Allegations that Laboratory Was Controlled by Chevron
Amazon Defense Coalition
16 April 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Paz y Miño: +1 510.281.9020 x302, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC – Chevron is ignoring explosive charges that it tampered with crucial scientific evidence and intentionally misled the court in the Aguinda v ChevronTexaco environmental trial in Ecuador, representatives of the plaintiffs say.
Diego Borja, an Ecuadorian who collected soil and water samples for Chevron in the environmental trial, was captured on an audio tape stating that he had evidence that Chevron controlled the laboratory where it processed scientific field samples. The laboratory, known as Severn Trent, was presented by Chevron to the court as being independent.
On the tapes, which were recorded by a friend and turned over to representatives of the plaintiffs, Borja says: "I know that's not true I have proof that they [the laboratories] were more than connected, they belonged to them [Chevron]." (Transcript 6, October 1, 2009 p. 6-8; Transcript 11, October 1, 2009, p. 6).
He went on to say "I have correspondence that talks about things you can't even imagine, dude. I can't talk about them here, dude, because I'm afraid, but they're things that can make the Amazons win this just like that (snapping his fingers)." (Transcript 4, October 1, 2009 p. 3, 7-9)
Borja said that he has evidence that would ensure Chevron will lose the lawsuit and would prove the company's complicity in what is widely considered as the world's largest man-made environmental disaster. Borja said the evidence was stored on his iPhone and in Ecuador.
Chevron has admitted it paid to move Borja and his family from Ecuador to a house a short distance from Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, California, where he would not be subject to a subpoena from the Ecuadorian court hearing the underlying litigation against the company. Borja revealed Chevron is paying $6,000 a month for the rent of a luxury home in a gated community, is paying for his SUV, and continues to compensate him the U.S. equivalent of $10,000 a month in Ecuador.
Chevron is also paying for a criminal defense lawyer to represent Borja, which the plaintiffs charge is an attempt to prevent him from being questioned by investigative authorities and journalists.
Borja said his wife, Sara Portilla, worked for both Severn Trent and Chevron at various times and was responsible for processing at least some of the thousands of soil and water samples collected by Chevron during the trial. In all, there are more than 64,000 chemical sampling results before the court, with 80% of them provided by Chevron.
"These revelations are extraordinarily concerning and Chevron must explain its actions to the court," said Pablo Fajardo, the Ecuadorian lawyer for the 30,000 plaintiffs who allege the company polluted a large swath of rainforest by dumping toxic waste.
The trial, which began in 2003 and involved dozens of judicial field inspections over several years, is expected to end later this year. Damages have been estimated by a court-appointed expert to be as high as $27 billion, but ultimately the judge will decide both liability and damages.
Borja worked for Chevron's local legal team for several years and said he was responsible for soil and water sampling during the trial. Chevron refused to disclose its close ties to Borja and his wife when it released secret video recordings made by Borja that the company used to try to taint the trial judge. Click here for more info.
Borja has a longtime relationship with Chevron, and keeps an office in a building owned by an uncle who also leases office space to Chevron's local legal team.
It was in this office building where Borja and Portilla's roles in collecting samples and sending them to the laboratory were carried out, according to Borja.
The tapes reveal that during the trial Borja collected soil and water samples at contaminated well sites on behalf of Chevron, and that he and his wife separately accepted the samples as representative of Chevron's independent laboratory and then stored them in their office refrigerator. Court records obtained by the plaintiffs investigator, Grant W. Fine, show Borja and Portilla's signatures on chain of custody documents. (Download PDF of documents)