Former Ecuadorian Judge Admits Role in Orchestrating Fraudulent Judgment Against Chevron

Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:09am EST

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Plaintiffs` Representatives Promised Presiding Judge $500,000 for a Fraudulent
Ruling against Chevron, Funded Ongoing Judicial Ghostwriting Scheme
SAN RAMON, Calif.--(Business Wire)--
A former Ecuadorian judge has acknowledged his direct involvement in
orchestrating a fraudulent judgment against Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) in the
environmental trial against the company in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. 

In a sworn declaration filed today in New York federal court, Alberto Guerra,
who presided over the case when it was first filed in 2003, reveals that he was
paid thousands of dollars by the plaintiffs` lawyers and a subsequent judge,
Nicholas Zambrano, for illegally ghostwriting judicial orders issued by Zambrano
and steering the case in the plaintiffs` favor. Guerra, who is no longer a
judge, attests that the plaintiffs` lawyers were permitted to draft the $18
billion judgment in their own favor after they promised to pay Zambrano a
$500,000 bribe out of the judgment`s enforcement proceeds, and that Guerra then
reviewed the plaintiffs` lawyers` draft for Zambrano before the judge issued it
as his own. 

"Another participant in the fraud has now come forward rather than wait to be
exposed by others," said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general
counsel. "Chevron urges additional whistleblowers in Ecuador, the United States,
and elsewhere to come forward. It is never too late to tell the truth." 

Guerra`s declaration, which is corroborated by computer, bank, and shipping
records, as well as the plaintiffs` lawyers` own internal e-mails, provides a
direct account of corruption that has tainted the trial for years. Guerra
describes multiple meetings with the plaintiffs` lawyers and representatives -
namely, New York-based Steven Donziger, Pablo Fajardo, and Luis Yanza - to
discuss payoffs, kickbacks, and the ghostwriting of court orders favorable to
the plaintiffs. Guerra attests:

* "I was Mr. Zambrano`s `ghostwriter` and I wrote the great majority of the
rulings issued in civil cases assigned to Mr. Zambrano, including the Chevron
case." 
* "Mr. Donziger thanked me for my work as ghostwriter in this case and for
helping steer the case in favor of the Plaintiffs`[sic]. The payments from the
Plaintiffs` representatives were given to me by Mr. Fajardo in cash, or were
deposited into my savings account at Banco Pichincha. I remember that while I
was writing court rulings for Mr. Zambrano I would regularly meet with Mr.
Fajardo, perhaps twice per month, to discuss my work." 
* "Mr. Zambrano told me he was in direct contact with Mr. Fajardo and that the
Plaintiffs` representatives had agreed to pay him USD $500,000 from whatever
money they were to collect from the judgment, in exchange for allowing them to
write the judgment in the Plaintiffs` favor." 
* "Approximately two weeks before the trial court in the Chevron case issued the
judgment, Mr. Zambrano gave me a draft of the judgment so that I could revise
it. It was through him that I found out that the attorneys for the Plaintiffs
had written that judgment and had delivered it to him." 
* "I worked on that document in Mr. Zambrano`s residence in Lago Agrio using Mr.
Fajardo`s computer." 
* "Based on what Mr. Zambrano told me, it is my understanding that the
Plaintiffs` attorneys made changes to the judgment up to the very last minute
before it was published." 
* "I knew at the time, and I know now, that the agreement in which I
participated, and by which the Plaintiffs` representatives drafted the judgment
in the Chevron case which Judge Zambrano issued, with my help, was a violation
of Ecuadorian law. According to Ecuadoran law, only a judge is authorized to
write rulings and judgments. For these same reasons I knew at the time, as I
know now, that the arrangement in which I participated, whereby I drafted court
rulings for Mr. Zambrano steering the case in favor of the Plaintiffs, and was
paid by the Plaintiffs` representatives for that work, was a violation of
Ecuadoran law. And I knew at that time, as I know now, that the agreement that
Mr. Zambrano told me he had reached with the representatives` attorneys, to let
them draft the judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs and against Chevron, in
exchange for him receiving USD $500,000 once they collected the money from the
judgment, was a violation of Ecuadoran law."

One year after issuing the judgment against Chevron, Zambrano was dismissed from
the bench as part of an organized crime commission investigation involving the
inappropriate release of narcotics traffickers from prison. 

Guerra`s account is corroborated by contemporaneous documentary evidence. For
example, his computer contains drafts of numerous court orders Zambrano issued,
including in the Lago Agrio case. And his bank records (here, here, here, and
here) document payments made to him by a representative of the plaintiffs.
Shipping records and Guerra`s calendar further corroborate his testimony. 

Sworn statements by several other witnesses also corroborate Guerra`s account.
Chevron`s Ecuadorian lawyers and others known to them now attest to the fact
that, at various times during Zambrano`s tenures on the case, Guerra directly
approached them to solicit bribes on Zambrano`s behalf in order to fix the Lago
Agrio judgment, and that Chevron refused Guerra`s approaches. Moreover,
contemporaneous declarations (here and here) from two of Chevron`s Ecuadorian
lawyers described the failed bribery solicitations at the time they occurred.
These several witnesses attest in their sworn statements that Chevron flatly
rejected Guerra`s repeated bribe solicitations on behalf of Zambrano. 

Guerra`s testimony and corroborating evidence confirm what the extensive overlap
between the plaintiffs` lawyers` internal files and the judgment itself already
supported - that the plaintiffs` lawyers corrupted the Ecuadorian court and
actually wrote the $18 billion judgment against Chevron. 

Contemporaneous e-mails between the plaintiffs` lawyers and representatives,
produced through court-ordered discovery in the United States, also corroborate
Guerra`s declaration. When another judge had to recuse himself from the case in
the midst of a bribery solicitation scandal and Zambrano was poised to resume
presiding over it, the plaintiffs` lawyers identified "Guerra" by name as a
potential target to influence the case`s ultimate ruling. The plaintiffs`
lawyers even assigned code names to Zambrano and Guerra, referring to them as
the "puppeteer" and the "puppet." On October 27, 2009, Fajardo sent Donziger and
Yanza an e-mail stating, "The puppeteer won`t move his puppet until the audience
doesn`t [sic] pay him something." On November 27, 2009, Yanza sent Donziger an
e-mail warning him about increased costs due to paying the "puppeteer." 

This revelation is the latest in a recent series of instances where individuals
and groups formerly aligned with the plaintiffs have either accused the
plaintiffs` lawyers of fraud or provided first-hand accounts of corruption
tainting the trial and judgment. Earlier this month, it was revealed that
Burford Capital, one of the largest financial backers of the plaintiffs, accused
the plaintiffs` lawyers of fraud and other misconduct in connection with their
pursuit of their case. In December, a former environmental consultant to the
plaintiffs came forward with additional proof of fraud and the fabrication of
evidence on the part of the plaintiffs` lawyers. 

Because of the risks to Guerra and his family from coming forward, Chevron has
taken reasonable measures, based on third-party assessments, to protect Guerra`s
safety and security, and that of his family, including relocating them from
Ecuador and providing other assistance. In exchange for collecting and turning
over hard evidence corroborating his account, including his personal computer,
two cell phones, his day calendars, and bank, phone and shipping records, Guerra
received a total of $38,000 from Chevron, but as Guerra affirms, he has "not . .
. received any money or compensation in exchange for signing this sworn
declaration." 

Additional evidence produced by the plaintiffs` American lawyers provides
corroborating proof that the Lago Agrio plaintiffs` representatives participated
in the drafting the judgment. In at least eight separate instances, the judgment
tracks the plaintiffs` lawyers` own documents, in some cases word-for-word,
reciting content from the plaintiffs` lawyers` internal materials that did not
form part of the record, as well as copying errors and idiosyncratic reference
citations that only appeared in the plaintiffs` internal documents. 

Chevron intends to provide all of this evidence to Ecuador`s Prosecutor General
and to request that his office investigate Zambrano and the plaintiffs` lawyers.
The company has provided similar evidence of fraud, corruption, and attorney
misconduct to authorities in Ecuador in the past, but to date, the government
there has taken no apparent action to enforce its laws. 

"Chevron once again calls on Ecuadorian authorities, and authorities wherever
these plaintiffs` lawyers are trying to advance their fraud, to investigate and
bring an end to this scheme," said Pate. "Ecuador should not tolerate American
lawyers using Ecuador`s institutions and citizens as puppets." 

In now coming forward, Guerra has also agreed to make himself available to
appear before other courts, tribunals, and investigators if requested to do so. 

Chevron is one of the world`s leading integrated energy companies, with
subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in
virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron explores for, produces and
transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes
transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemical
products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy
efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including
biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron
is available at www.chevron.com.

Chevron Corp.
Kent Robertson, +1-925-790-3819 

Copyright Business Wire 2013

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