Business: Chevron Corporation
Issue: Chevron’s attempt to avoid a $9.5B liability to rain forest communities for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste and for ongoing violations of Indigenous rights. Chevron abandoned roughly 1,000 unlined oil waste pits after operating in the country from 1964 to 1992.
Comment: Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Ecuador signed a protocol to hold Chevron accountable. “This protocol is a profound step forward for Indigenous groups in both Ecuador and Canada to hold an irresponsible corporate polluter accountable for its actions in destroying Indigenous lands and cultures in the Amazon and around the world,” Jamie Vargas, President CONAIE
Last Update: April 13, 2018: Frente de Defensa de la Amazonía – A critical court hearing in Ontario could re-shape indigenous rights and corporate law throughout the world. The hearing, which will take place April 17-18 before a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal, will determine whether Chevron can immunize itself from paying the Ecuador judgment by placing its assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Several Ecuadorian leaders from the FDA and AFN leaders, including National Chief Perry Bellegarde and former National Chief Phil Fontaine, are expected to attend the hearing. Chevron has argued that assets held by its wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Chevron Canada, should be off-limits to collection on the judgment even though Chevron reaps billions of dollars annually in profits from the subsidiary’s operations. If Chevron’s legal argument holds, it will be virtually impossible for First Nations and all human rights victims to collect on court judgments from private corporations once the corporations place their assets in a wholly-owned subsidiary. The dumping decimated traditional lifestyles and caused an outbreak of cancer and other health problems that have either killed of afflicted thousands of people, according to independent health studies and other evidence presented to the court.
As the evidence against it mounted in the Ecuador trial, Chevron sold off its assets in the country and vowed to never pay the judgment. It also made its infamous “lifetime of litigation” threat and began retaliatory attacks against community leaders and their lawyers in courts around the world. The company has used at least 60 law firms and 2,000 lawyers on the case and recently was caught paying a witness $2 million to testify falsely about the case in U.S. federal court, leading to a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice.