| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 19 A U.S. lawyer on Tuesday denied
using bribery to win a multibillion-dollar judgment against
Chevron Corp in Ecuador, even as the oil company's
lawyer raised tough questions about evidence that he said
suggested the payments were made.
Chevron has claimed that the lawyer, Steven Donziger, used
fraud to obtain the $18.5 billion judgment for villagers to
compensate them for contamination at an oil field in
northeastern Ecuador. The judgment was reduced to $9.5 billion
by Ecuador's highest court last week.
Chevron hopes that a verdict in its favor from U.S. District
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the non-jury trial in
New York, will help it defend against attempts to enforce the
judgment around the world.
The judgment in Ecuador concerned pollution between 1964 and
1992 at an oil field operated by Texaco, which was later
acquired by Chevron. Chevron claims Texaco remediated the site
after ceasing operations.
Former Ecuadorean judge Alberto Guerra had testified earlier
that he was paid $1,000 a month to ghostwrite orders for the
judge overseeing the Ecuadorean case, Nicolas Zambrano. Guerra
said that the Donziger was aware of the arrangement and the U.S.
lawyer had thanked him at a restaurant meeting in Quito,
Donziger denied that claim, testifying that Guerra asked for
$500,000 at that meeting and that Donziger turned him down.
"I would never do that," Donziger said. "Whatever money we
had, it would not be used to bribe a judge."
A lawyer for Chevron, Randy Mastro, said bank records showed
that a woman working for an organization affiliated with
Donziger deposited $1,000 into Guerra's account.
Mastro asked about emails sent from an Ecuadorean lawyer on
the case to Donziger that referred to a "puppeteer" and a
"puppet." In one email, the lawyer said the puppeteer would not
move the puppet unless the "audience pays him something."
Despite Mastro's suggestion that those were codenames for
Guerra and Zambrano, Donziger said he did not believe the emails
were referring to them.
Mastro also questioned Donziger about a report submitted by
a court-appointed expert, Richard Cabrera, in Ecuador that found
Chevron liable for billions of dollars in damages.
Donziger acknowledged that a consulting firm working with
his team had drafted the executive summary as well as other
portions of the report, a fact that had been kept hidden. In a
news release Donziger drafted in 2008, he called Chevron's claim
that Cabrera had cooperated with the plaintiffs "completely
"There were times when I wasn't fully accurate about that
relationship," he said on Tuesday. "This may have been one of
He also testified that the team paid Cabrera out of a
separate account because the court was shut down at times due to
what he said were Chevron's attempts to delay the case.
"That was the reason he was paid outside the court process,"
But he said he believed the process that led to the Cabrera
report comported with Ecuadorean "law, custom and practice."
The case is Chevron Corp v. Steven Donziger et al, U.S.
District ABBCourt for the Southern District of New York, No.