By Daniel Fisher, Forbes.com
16 September 2010
A federal judge in California has ordered the deposition of Diego Fernando Borja Sanchez, the sometime Chevron contractor who filmed ex parte meetings with the judge formerly presiding over a long-running lawsuit over oil spills in the Ecuadorean jungle. A copy of the order is here.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Chen says Ecuador has convinced him the deposition might uncover evidence supporting the country's allegations "that Mr. Borja was not an innocent third party who just happened to learn of the alleged bribery scheme but rather was a long-time associate of Chevron whom Chevron would pay for any favorable testimony."
In a case that seems to have had too many cameras whirring in the background, Borja took surreptitious video of conversations with the judge in Lago Agrio, Ecuador who was hearing the case against Chevron. That judge later removed himself from the case amid allegations the videos showed he was partial to the plaintiffs and might have been receptive to steering remediation work Borja's way. Ecuador and the plaintiff lawyers dispute this, and are seeking Borja's testimony to rebut Chevron's claims that the judicial process in Ecuador is hopelessly corrupt.
The U.S. court action flows from an international arbitration Chevron is pursuing against Ecuador to counteract the effects of any adverse ruling in that country. Under U.S. law, participants in a foreign case can petition federal courts to help them gather evidence.