Wikileaks Cables Make A Bad Week For Chevron Even Worse

Written by Mike G

Topics: Oil

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house-of-cardsEarlier this week, a New York appeals court toppled the legal house of cards Chevron built to shield itself from having to clean up its oil contamination in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Now a series of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks has gone and made what was already a very bad week for Chevron even worse.

The cables, written by U.S. officials, show that Chevron engaged in a covert lobbying campaign aimed at getting the Ecuadorean government to intervene in the lawsuit brought against the company by thousands of rural and Indigenous Ecuadoreans over massive oil contamination in the Amazon (see the cables hereherehere and here). Intervention in judicial matters by the government of Ecuador is, of course, forbidden by the country’s Constitution. Nonetheless, Chevron tried to barter with the administration of President Raphael Correa: If the administration would break the law and save Chevron from having to clean up its mess, the company would return the favor by funding “social projects” in Ecuador. (Which begs the question: Why not just fund clean up of your mess, Chevron?)

But that’s not even why these revelations are so embarrassing for the company. You might recall that Chevron filed racketeering charges against the Ecuadorean plaintiffs and their US lawyers earlier this year. Those charges were based in part on allegations that the plaintiffs were colluding with the government of Ecuador to improperly influence the judiciary to rule against Chevron. You see where I’m going with this: At the very same time that Chevron’s lawyers in the US were attempting to build a racketeering case, Chevron’s operatives in Ecuador were engaging in the very criminal conduct Chevron was accusing the plaintiffs of.

Those racketeering charges were part of Chevron’s aggressive “Blame The Victim” legal strategy, which all came toppling down on Monday. When the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in NYC threw out a preliminary injunction that barred enforcement of an $18 billion judgment finding Chevron guilty of polluting the Amazon, it also indefinitely postponed the trial over the racketeering charges.

No wonder Oppenheimer oil and gas analyst Fadel Gheit is speculating that Chevron CEO “John Watson is not a happy camper today.” Watson was a key player in Chevron’s purchase of Texaco in 2001, and the appeals court’s decision clears the way for seizure of Chevron assets to pay off the $18 billion judgment if the company continues to refuse to take responsibility for its environmental and human rights catastrophe in the Amazon.

Not a good week for Chevron at all. Which means the Ecuadoreans suffering from Chevron’s oil pollution are that much closer to seeing justice served at long last.

6 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Gabe says:

    Nice article Mike! This is why I love wikileaks – the importance of a free press and flow of information absolutely can’t be understated.

  2. Anthony says:

    Just read the cables and I cannot figure out how you arrived at the conclusion that “Chevron engaged in a covert lobbying campaign aimed at getting the Ecuadorean government to intervene in the lawsuit brought against the company.” Could you please provide quotes or something?

  3. Mike Corbeil says:

    It seems reader Anthony should reread the cables, carefully. I just read the four of them and believe that there’s enough in them about Chevron engaging in covert lobbying in this case in Ecuador. The word “lobbying” or “lobby” isn’t used, but the cables still say enough about what can be considered lobbying, imo.

    I find Chevron’s lawsuit about Ecuadorean government officials and some members of the President’s family having purportedly been involved in a bribery scheme against Chevron a little difficult to believe. One of the cables, the second one a link is provided for in the above article, states that it was for $3mn and that it “was supposedly to be split between Judge Nunez, representatives of the Ecuadorian Presidency, the plaintiffs, and allegedly the President’s sister Pierina”.

    If they were all poor people, then they might be very interested in splitting $3mn between them, but these people the money was supposedly to be split among aren’t poor and they wouldn’t get much of a share, each ; if evenly or equally split anyway. If they were to get $3mn each, then that could be a whole other story and would be, but it’s $3mn to be split among apparently quite a few people and they aren’t poor or economically suffering, to begin with.

    So how credible is what Chevron claims about this bribery scheme ? Doesn’t seem particularly credible to me, but maybe it is plausible.

  4. Mike Corbeil says:

    I just reread my first post and now realize that the text quoted about the people the $3mn bribery money who were supposedly going to each get a share includes “the plaintiffs” and perhaps some or many of them are poor. But the others, government officials, who were supposedly included in this bribery scheme, according to Chevron, aren’t poor, and the number of “the plaintiffs” , whatever the number is, probably strengthens my doubts about Chevron’s claim ; for now it’s more people who were supposedly going to each get shares of this $3mn, according to Chevron.

    Good article though and I learned about it just now at the top of the home page at

  5. Colin Guest says:

    This is great news. Well done wikileaks once again the truth is out. Chevron like many other major companies uses its wealth to avoid its responsibilities when things go wrong.

  6. judy says:

    I am glad to hear that Chevron has been held responsible for this crime. Can you help us in Australia. We need the stuff on Woodside energy ltd, how can they just walk in and build LNG plants on Indigenous art sites and Indigenous song cycle tracks in Western Australia??? it is beyond our comprehension????
    we don’t want them in Broome..

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