* Amazon residents eye Chevron assets abroad in pollution
* U.S. company says Ecuador ruling is product of fraud
By Eduardo Garcia
BOGOTA, May 30 Ecuadorean plaintiffs filed a
lawsuit in Canada as a first move outside their country to try
and enforce an $18 billion court judgment against oil company
Chevron for polluting the Amazon, their lawyers said on
The 2011 judgment against Chevron is one of the
biggest rulings ever for environmental damage and is being
tracked closely by the global oil industry.
Issued by an Ecuadorean court in the jungle region at the
heart of the dispute, the ruling was upheld by an appeals court
in January - but Chevron has appealed to Ecuador's Supreme
Since U.S.-based Chevron no longer has assets in Ecuador,
the plaintiffs are trying to get the ruling enforced outside the
The new lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of Justice in
Ontario, targets Chevron and various subsidiaries that together
hold significant assets in Canada, the plaintiffs' legal team
said in a statement.
"While Chevron might think it can ignore court orders in
Ecuador, it will be impossible to ignore a court order in Canada
where a court may seize the company's assets if necessary to
secure payment," said Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the
"We plan to exercise our legal right to collect every penny
of the legitimate judgment from Ecuador, even if we have to drag
Chevron kicking and screaming into courts around the world."
The plaintiffs accused Texaco, which was later taken over by
Chevron, of causing illnesses among the local population by
dumping drilling waste in unlined pits in the 1970s and 1980s.
Chevron denies the accusations. It says Texaco did not
pollute the jungle, and that it properly cleaned up all the pits
for which it was responsible.
"The Ecuador judgment is a product of bribery, fraud, and it
is illegitimate. The company does not believe that the Ecuador
judgment is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of
law," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The legal saga has spanned nearly two decades and is under
scrutiny for precedents that could impact other claims against
multinationals accused of pollution elsewhere around the world.
The case has also become a cause celebre for environmental
activists who cast the decision in favor of the plaintiffs as
victory of David vs. Goliath proportions.
Filled with intrigue, accusations of corruption, bribery and
dirty tricks, the complicated case is now being fought on
multiple fronts including Ecuador's Supreme Court, a New York
court handling a racketeering lawsuit filed by the company, and
an international arbitration tribunal.