15 September 2009
September 15, 2009
Dear Board Member,
We write to urge you to investigate recent activities of Chevron's management, legal team, and public relations firms which may have violated Chevron's own code of ethics, U.S. and Ecuadorian law, and exposed your company to significant criminal and civil liability. As an independent member of the Chevron's Board of Directors, you have a fiduciary duty to act to ensure that Chevron's management continues to act in the best interest of your shareholders and investors. In the face of mounting evidence of Chevron's potential involvement in a recent bribery scheme related to Aguinda v Chevron, we encourage you to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine if any member of Chevron's management, legal, or communication teams has engaged in inappropriate conduct.
On August 31, Chevron's legal department released several secret videos which Chevron alleges implicate the Ecuadorian trial judge hearing the case in a bribery scheme. The central figure responsible for the attempted bribery was a Chevron contractor who worked for Chevron in the ongoing litigation as recently as March of this year. Since the videos were released, Chevron has admitted that the company paid the contractor for the videos and that it had prior knowledge about the only meeting where any bribes were discussed. Significantly, Chevron's legal and/or public relations teams chose to hold on to the videos for three months before posting them on YouTube instead of turning them over to the proper authorities.
The conduct of Chevron's management and legal teams has raised numerous questions as to Chevron's role in the bribery scheme and may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, exposing Chevron to significant legal liability, of the sort that Chevron recently paid the U.S. Department of Justice $30 million to settle. Chevron's admissions and the numerous unresolved questions surrounding Chevron's actions have prompted Ecuador's Attorney General Washington Pesantez to request the initiation of a lawsuit in the U.S. on this very point.
We urge you, as an independent Board Member responsible for safeguarding the health of Chevron, to take all appropriate action to answer the outstanding questions about Chevron management and legal team's roles in the bribery scandal and to identify any inappropriate conduct by any element of the company. If any misconduct is found, we expect that you will take all appropriate action to correct the misconduct and publicize the activity to shareholders.
Paul Paz y Miño
Managing Director, Amazon Watch