Chevron confronted with mismanaged multibillion-dollar liability; Major institutional shareholders urge settlement
25 May 2011 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
San Ramon, CA – At the company's Annual General Meeting (AGM) of shareholders today, Chevron management and Board of Directors came under fire for their handling of the massive $18 billion environmental disaster in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In the wake of a landmark legal victory against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court just three months ago, a delegation of three indigenous and community leaders from the rainforest region in Ecuador ravaged by Chevron subsidiary Texaco joined leaders from communities harmed by Chevron's operations around the globe to demand that Chevron take responsibility for its abuses.
"I want to remind you that our fight in Ecuador is for life and for justice," said Humberto Piaguaje, a Secoya leader speaking on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorians who face a severe public health crisis due to widespread oil contamination of their rainforest home. "You and your company have declared you will fight us until 'hell freezes over.' You must own up to your responsibility to my people in Ecuador. How will you respond?"
At the same time, major institutional investors urged Chevron to resolve the protracted and costly litigation. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, administrator of New York's $140 billion public pension fund – the country's 3rd largest – told the company, "it's time to face reality."
"The entire case is looming like a hammer over shareholders' heads. Chevron should start fresh with a new approach that embraces environmental responsibility and risk management as part of its corporate culture. More legal proceedings will only delay the inevitable," Dinapoli continued.
New York State joined more than 20 large institutional investors – with more than $155 billion in assets under management – in issuing a joint investor statement calling upon the oil giant to "reevaluate whether endless litigation in the Aguinda [v. Chevron] case is the best strategy for the Company and its shareholders, or whether a more productive approach, such as reaching an equitable negotiated settlement, could be employed to protect shareholder investments and prevent any further reputational harm due to protracted litigation."
Affected communities, their allies, and shareholders lined up to confront the company during a cacophonous question and answer session, assailing the company over its approach to the Ecuador disaster, and other human rights and environmental crises related to Chevron's operations globally.
"This marks ten years since the shareholders meeting on the eve of Chevron's acquisition of Texaco, when I stood before then Chevron CEO David O'Reilly and warned him that by buying Texaco he was purchasing a multibillion dollar liability," said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch. "I hoped that Chevron would take a different path than Texaco's deceptive approach. Instead, Chevron's mismanagement of the crisis in Ecuador has ballooned into an $18 billion guilty verdict."