A major scandal has arisen in the biggest environmental lawsuit in history – the $27 billion lawsuit against Chevron oil company brought by a lawyer representing citizens of Ecuador.
As reported in Tuesday’s New York Times, Chevron has released video implicating Ecuador government officials close to the president in a massive bribery scheme. Chevron claims its covertly recorded videos “reveal a $3 million bribery scheme implicating the judge presiding over the environmental lawsuit currently pending against Chevron and individuals who identify themselves as representatives of the Ecuadorian government and its ruling party.” The president responded, in part, by threatening to shut down a television station that aired the videos.
In a Forbes commentary this summer (“Toxic Revenge“), CEI journalism fellow Silvia Santacruz explained why the lawsuit was unjust in the first place (exempting the state-owned oil company, for example). She noted that Ecuador lawsuits targeting international companies face a court system rated corrupt by the United Nations, the International Bar Association and the U.S. State Department.
Santacruz also explains why such lawsuits, along with a 50% “windfall profits” tax, have directly harmed the people of Ecuador, scaring away foreign investment. Lago Agrio, where the lawsuit against Chevron was brought, is poor in literacy levels and in basic needs, like running water. In fact, Santacruz produced a YouTube video, UnderMining Prosperity, to call attention to the plight of Ecuadorian people.