QUITO, Ecuador, Oct. 11 (UPI) — Ecuadorean officials and Chevron executives continue to accuse each other of gross improprieties as a legal case over oil spills in the jungle drags on.
The U.S. oil giant inherited the legal problems in the Amazon jungle when it bought Texaco in 2001, The New York Times reported Friday. Texaco was responsible for contamination of water in the Amazon region of the South American country.
A multibillion-dollar legal case filed by the government for Amazon peasants that has already run for 16 years became complicated in August when Chevron released secretly taped videos. Two businessmen who appeared to be looking to get a slice of the expected $27 billion in damages taped themselves with Ecuadorean officials, including the judge hearing the legal case.
The businessmen won’t explain why they attended meetings in Quito and a jungle outpost to discuss an alleged bribery plot.
One of the Ecuadorean officials taped, Patricio Garcia, said he was entrapped by Chevron. He said Chevron masterminded an industrial espionage project intended to smear Ecuador’s legal system.
His interpretation of the situation is echoed by Washington Pesantez, the country’s attorney general, who says Chevron is trying to further delay the suit. Chevron denies having the meetings taped, which is illegal in Ecuador.
Texaco allegedly polluted large swaths of the rain forest long before it was purchased by Chevron. Chevron has no assets in Ecuador so it would be hard to get the company to pay even if the government wins the suit.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International