* E-mails, video evidence handed over
* Chevron calls for probe of government officials
By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, Sept 7 Chevron Corp on Monday presented
Ecuador's government with video tapes and e-mails it said
provided evidence of a bribery scheme linked to a $27 billion
environmental damages lawsuit against the U.S. oil company.
The judge hearing the case, Juan Nunez, last week recused
himself from the case just days after Chevron handed Ecuadorean
and U.S. authorities a secretly recorded video of the
magistrate talking of ruling against Chevron later this year.
Ecuador's attorney general began investigating the bribery
and misconduct accusations against Nunez after the U.S. company
said it would ask for him to be disqualified from the case. The
judge says he committed no wrongdoing.
Chevron said on Monday it provided Ecuadorean authorities
with videos and e-mails to support its accusations and a letter
requesting a probe into whether a presidential advisor and
officials attempted to influence the case's outcome.
"In a letter to Ecuador authorities, the company asked that
several important points be examined by the investigation into
the scheme, which implicated the judge hearing the case, as
well as ruling party and government officials," the company
said in a statement.
Chevron has complained before about government interference
in the 16-year-old case, in which indigenous communities have
accused Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, of damaging the
environment and their health while operating petroleum
facilities in the region.
An expert appointed by the Ecuadorean court said last year
that Chevron should pay around $27 billion, including more than
$8 billion in unjust enrichment.
Chevron said last week the video, posted at TexacoEcuador
YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/texacoecuador, shows a
man at another meeting identifying himself as a representative
of Ecuador's ruling party and discussing a $3 million bribe for
contracts, of which Nunez would get a third.
The plaintiffs have accused Texaco of dumping billions of
gallons of polluted water in the jungle around where they had
lived for more than two decades before the company left Ecuador
in the early 1990s.
The Amazon Defense Coalition, a plaintiffs' group, said on
Friday that Nunez's decision to recuse himself clears the path
for the legal proceedings to continue uninterrupted. But the
group said the recusal does not "change the overwhelming
evidence against Chevron."
Chevron said two meetings with Nunez and two meetings with
purported party representative Patricio Garcia had been
recorded by both Diego Borja, a local logistics contractor who
has worked for Chevron, and American Wayne Hansen, who has no
relationship with the company.
Chevron said the meetings were recorded without its
knowledge, through small cameras in a watch owned by Borja and
a pen held by Hansen. The company said Borja brought the
bribery scheme to its attention in June.
The U.S. company says that the two men had not explained
why they recorded the meetings.
Chevron said neither man was paid, though the San Ramon,
California-based company said it had assisted Borja with the
costs of relocating out of Ecuador and other support because he
and Chevron feared for his safety and that of his family.
But the Amazon Defense Coalition said last week that Borja
had worked for Chevron on the environmental trial during the
final eight field inspections, and that one of his cousins
works for Chevron.
(Writing by Patrick Markey in Bogota; Editing by Richard