Chevron calls for investigation of Ecuador ruling

December 22, 2011 - 12:05 AM

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Chevron Corp. on Wednesday urged Ecuador's authorities to investigate the conduct of plaintiffs' lawyers and a judge who handed down an $18 billion decision in an oil pollution case.

The oil company said in a statement that it submitted a letter to the country's prosecutor general alleging there was fraud and corruption in the case. In the letter, the company accused the plaintiffs' lawyers of working with Judge Nicolas Zambrano to draft the February judgment.

Karen Hinton, U.S. spokeswoman for the Ecuadoreans who won the judgment against the company, dismissed those claims.

"Chevron's charges are based on the racist belief by company executives that an Ecuadorian judge is not qualified to write a scholarly, scientifically-based judgment," Hinton said in an emailed statement. "Chevron has run out of steam and is turning to desperate measures to save itself."

Chevron has previously alleged fraud in the lawsuit over pollution of the Amazon rain forest more than two decades ago by energy company Texaco. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.

The plaintiffs have also accused Chevron of defrauding the Ecuadorean court to hide the scale of the oil contamination.

Attempts to reach Ecuadorean authorities on Wednesday were unsuccessful.