Court Orders First Handover of Chevron’s Ecuador Assets
Oct. 17, 2012
QUITO, Ecuador, October 17, 2012 (ENS) – An Ecuadorian court has frozen are all bank accounts owned by Chevron, Texaco, and their subsidiaries in partial payment of a $19 billion pollution damages judgment against Chevron.
Indigenous people and villagers living in the Ecuadorian Amazon were granted a court order this week that allows them to collect $200 million of Chevron’s assets in the country.
“This is a huge first step for the rainforest villagers on the road to collecting the entire $19 billion judgment,” said Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Fajardo said the assets would be used to begin a cleanup of the ecological disaster left by Texaco, consistent with the mandates laid out by the Ecuador trial court.
“Indigenous people and farmers in Ecuador continue to suffer disease and death because of Chevron’s refusal to respect the rule of law in Ecuador,” said Fajardo. “This is the first example of how Chevron is losing assets as courts force it to comply with its obligations.”
The court order was signed by Judge Wilfrido Erazo in the Sucumbios Provincial Court. Among the assets the court ordered be handed to the plaintiffs are a $96.3 million debt Ecuador’s government owes Chevron, monies in various bank accounts held in Ecuador by Chevron and its subsidiaries, and licensing fees generated by the use of Chevron trademarks in the country.
Chevron has tried to remove all of its assets from Ecuador to avoid just such a seizure.
The $19 billion judgment, issued in early 2011 after an eight-year trial in the oil industry town of Lago Agrio, found that the U.S. oil company Texaco, since purchased by Chevron, deliberately dumped more than 16 billion gallons of oily toxic waste into the Amazon from 1964 through 1992.
Texaco’s use of substandard operational practices in Ecuador decimated indigenous groups and caused cancer that has already killed or threatens to kill thousands of people, the court found. A three-judge appellate panel in Ecuador affirmed the decision.
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