* R. Hewitt Pate worked for U.S. Justice Department
* Chevron faces big political and legal fight in Ecuador
SAN FRANCISCO, July 29 Chevron Corp (CVX.N) has
hired a new general counsel with extensive Washington D.C.
experience as the U.S. oil company gears up for a politically
charged legal fight over a potential $27 billion liability in
Chevron said on Wednesday that R. Hewitt Pate, 47, would
serve as vice president and general counsel and report to
Charles James, the current general counsel who became an
executive vice president earlier this year.
James, who worked with Pate at the U.S. Department of
Justice's antitrust division before joining Chevron in 2002,
said his replacement as Chevron general counsel had a "proven
track record of handling complex legal and policy issues."
Pate has run the global competition practice at Hunton &
Williams in the U.S. capital since 2005, before which he served
as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's
He was deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust,
responsible for energy, transportation and other regulatory
matters from 2001 to 2003.
It was in 2001 that Chevron completed its acquisition of
Texaco, which has been sued by 30,000 Ecuadorean plaintiffs who
say the company polluted the jungle where they lived by dumping
billions of gallons of contaminated water over more than two
decades before the company left in the early 1990s.
A ruling in the case in Ecuadorean court, which is weighing
a claim for $27 billion in compensation for the environmental
damage, is expected some time this year.
Political pressure over the case has steadily risen, with
four U.S. senators writing the U.S. trade representative last
month to criticize Chevron's push to cut Ecuador's trade
benefits because of what the company sees as political
interference in the case by Ecuador's President Rafael Correa.
Pate, who will serve on Chevron's executive committee, will
take up his position at the San Ramon, California-based company
on Aug. 3.
(Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)