Amazon Defense Coalition
10 November 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Paz y Miño: +1 510.281.9020 x302, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco, CA – Self-described Chevron sting operative Diego Borja, scheduled to appear in court today in San Francisco, is conceding that the oil giant "cooked" evidence to defend itself against a multi-billion oil contamination lawsuit in the Ecuadorian rainforest, according to documents filed in court.
Borja's lawyers today are scheduled to argue their motion to quash a subpoena requiring Borja to produce evidence relating to Chevron's operations in Ecuador, where he said he ran a "dirty tricks" operation for the oil giant. Borja has emerged as a key figure in the Ecuador lawsuit – where Chevron faces damages of up to $113 billion -- after he was caught on tape saying the oil giant "cooked evidence" to produce lower levels of toxic contaminants.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs have long charged that Chevron is violating the law in Ecuador by trying to undermine the trial, which is in the South American nation at Chevron's request after it was filed in U.S. federal court in 1993.
The vast majority of the voluminous scientific evidence in the trial points to Chevron's culpability for massive oil contamination throughout an area the size of Rhode Island. The contamination is producing high rates of cancer and other oil-related diseases and has decimated indigenous groups, according to evidence before the court.
Chevron has repeatedly announced it expects to lose the case, and instead has attempted to persuade its shareholders that it can avoid enforcement of the judgment by claiming that the the court and the Ecuadoran legal system are not legitimate.
In papers filed with the federal district court in San Francisco, Borja's lawyers do not deny that he made the claims the oil giant "cooked evidence". Instead, they argue the statements are not relevant to the international arbitration claim between Chevron and the government of Ecuador, which is the legal basis for the subpeona.
U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen earlier had ordered Borja to appear for a deposition, writing that there is evidence "suggesting that Mr. Borja was not an innocent third party ... but rather was a long-time associate of Chevron whom Chevron would pay for any favorable testimony."
Borja was caught on tape last year telling a friend that Chevron had "cooked evidence" and that he had incriminating information that if known would cause Chevron to lose the lawsuit. Borja threatened to reveal the incriminating evidence if the company did not pay him for videotapes he secretly recorded with an accomplice that attempted to discredit the Ecuadorian judge presiding over the case.
In August 2009, Chevron released the videotapes to the news media and accused the judge of bribery, even though the judge did not attend the meeting where Borja and Hansen offered a bribe and there was no evidence that the judge engaged in misconduct. The plaintiffs charged the tapes were part of a Nixon-style dirty tricks operation launched by Chevron's lawyers.
Chevron later relocated Borja and his family to the United States at the company's expense, where he remains on Chevron's payroll while living in a luxury house in a gated community. Chevron is paying the fees of his lawyers.
Hansen, who is a convicted drug trafficker who served time in prison, also has been ordered to appear for a deposition but appears to have fled California and has not been served papers, according to sources.
The court documents supporting Borja's subpoena demonstrate that:
- Chevron claimed in a press release that Borja was a "Good Samaritan," when in fact he was working under the direction of Chevron's legal team since at least 2004, and he himself said he was responsible for "dirty tricks" during the trial;
- Borja formed four dummy companies for Chevron to make the tests of soil and water samples that Chevron introduced as evidence in the litigation appear independent;
- Borja's wife also worked for Chevron, and both he and his wife signed documents as representatives of Severn Trent Labs, a supposedly independent laboratory used to test soil and water samples from the litigation;
- Borja and his Chevron "boss" attempted to infiltrate a laboratory used by the plaintiffs using false names.
Among Borja's quotes from the tapes cited in the legal papers is the following passage:
"... I have correspondence [with Chevron officials] that talks about things you can't even imagine, dude... they're things that can make the Amazons win this just like this [snapping fingers]... I mean, what I have is conclusive evidence, photos of how they managed things internally."
The tapes of Borja, made by an Ecuadorian man named Santiago Escobar, have been turned over to authorities in Ecuador and the United States.
Escobar has said that Borja indicated to him that he carried out a series of clandestine "dirty tricks" operations for Chevron in Ecuador. Escobar said Borja told him he arranged "the biggest business deal of his life" that would "take down the lawsuit" and that he had received a "ton of money" from Chevron for his work.