Former Ecuadorian Judge Admits Role in Orchestrating Fraudulent Judgment Against Chevron

  Former Ecuadorian Judge Admits Role in Orchestrating Fraudulent Judgment
  Against Chevron

Plaintiffs’ Representatives Promised Presiding Judge $500,000 for a Fraudulent
     Ruling against Chevron, Funded Ongoing Judicial Ghostwriting Scheme

Business Wire

SAN RAMON, Calif. -- January 28, 2013

A former Ecuadorian judge has acknowledged his direct involvement in
orchestrating a fraudulent judgment against Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) in the
environmental trial against the company in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.

In a sworn declaration filed today in New York federal court, Alberto Guerra,
who presided over the case when it was first filed in 2003, reveals that he
was paid thousands of dollars by the plaintiffs’ lawyers and a subsequent
judge, Nicholas Zambrano, for illegally ghostwriting judicial orders issued by
Zambrano and steering the case in the plaintiffs’ favor. Guerra, who is no
longer a judge, attests that the plaintiffs’ lawyers were permitted to draft
the $18 billion judgment in their own favor after they promised to pay
Zambrano a $500,000 bribe out of the judgment’s enforcement proceeds, and that
Guerra then reviewed the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ draft for Zambrano before the
judge issued it as his own.

“Another participant in the fraud has now come forward rather than wait to be
exposed by others,” said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general
counsel. “Chevron urges additional whistleblowers in Ecuador, the United
States, and elsewhere to come forward. It is never too late to tell the
truth.”

Guerra’s declaration, which is corroborated by computer, bank, and shipping
records, as well as the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ own internal e-mails, provides a
direct account of corruption that has tainted the trial for years. Guerra
describes multiple meetings with the plaintiffs’ lawyers and representatives –
namely, New York-based Steven Donziger, Pablo Fajardo, and Luis Yanza – to
discuss payoffs, kickbacks, and the ghostwriting of court orders favorable to
the plaintiffs. Guerra attests:

  *“I was Mr. Zambrano’s ‘ghostwriter’ and I wrote the great majority of the
    rulings issued in civil cases assigned to Mr. Zambrano, including the
    Chevron case.”
  *“Mr. Donziger thanked me for my work as ghostwriter in this case and for
    helping steer the case in favor of the Plaintiffs’[sic]. The payments from
    the Plaintiffs’ representatives were given to me by Mr. Fajardo in cash,
    or were deposited into my savings account at Banco Pichincha. I remember
    that while I was writing court rulings for Mr. Zambrano I would regularly
    meet with Mr. Fajardo, perhaps twice per month, to discuss my work.”
  *“Mr. Zambrano told me he was in direct contact with Mr. Fajardo and that
    the Plaintiffs’ representatives had agreed to pay him USD $500,000 from
    whatever money they were to collect from the judgment, in exchange for
    allowing them to write the judgment in the Plaintiffs’ favor.”
  *“Approximately two weeks before the trial court in the Chevron case issued
    the judgment, Mr. Zambrano gave me a draft of the judgment so that I could
    revise it. It was through him that I found out that the attorneys for the
    Plaintiffs had written that judgment and had delivered it to him.”
  *“I worked on that document in Mr. Zambrano’s residence in Lago Agrio using
    Mr. Fajardo’s computer.”
  *“Based on what Mr. Zambrano told me, it is my understanding that the
    Plaintiffs’ attorneys made changes to the judgment up to the very last
    minute before it was published.”
  *“I knew at the time, and I know now, that the agreement in which I
    participated, and by which the Plaintiffs’ representatives drafted the
    judgment in the Chevron case which Judge Zambrano issued, with my help,
    was a violation of Ecuadorian law. According to Ecuadoran law, only a
    judge is authorized to write rulings and judgments. For these same reasons
    I knew at the time, as I know now, that the arrangement in which I
    participated, whereby I drafted court rulings for Mr. Zambrano steering
    the case in favor of the Plaintiffs, and was paid by the Plaintiffs’
    representatives for that work, was a violation of Ecuadoran law. And I
    knew at that time, as I know now, that the agreement that Mr. Zambrano
    told me he had reached with the representatives’ attorneys, to let them
    draft the judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs and against Chevron, in
    exchange for him receiving USD $500,000 once they collected the money from
    the judgment, was a violation of Ecuadoran law.”

One year after issuing the judgment against Chevron, Zambrano was dismissed
from the bench as part of an organized crime commission investigation
involving the inappropriate release of narcotics traffickers from prison.

Guerra’s account is corroborated by contemporaneous documentary evidence. For
example, his computer contains drafts of numerous court orders Zambrano
issued, including in the Lago Agrio case. And his bank records (here, here,
here, and here) document payments made to him by a representative of the
plaintiffs. Shipping records and Guerra’s calendar further corroborate his
testimony.

Sworn statements by several other witnesses also corroborate Guerra’s account.
Chevron’s Ecuadorian lawyers and others known to them now attest to the fact
that, at various times during Zambrano’s tenures on the case, Guerra directly
approached them to solicit bribes on Zambrano’s behalf in order to fix the
Lago Agrio judgment, and that Chevron refused Guerra’s approaches. Moreover,
contemporaneous declarations (here and here) from two of Chevron’s Ecuadorian
lawyers described the failed bribery solicitations at the time they occurred.
These several witnesses attest in their sworn statements that Chevron flatly
rejected Guerra’s repeated bribe solicitations on behalf of Zambrano.

Guerra’s testimony and corroborating evidence confirm what the extensive
overlap between the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ internal files and the judgment
itself already supported – that the plaintiffs’ lawyers corrupted the
Ecuadorian court and actually wrote the $18 billion judgment against Chevron.

Contemporaneous e-mails between the plaintiffs’ lawyers and representatives,
produced through court-ordered discovery in the United States, also
corroborate Guerra’s declaration. When another judge had to recuse himself
from the case in the midst of a bribery solicitation scandal and Zambrano was
poised to resume presiding over it, the plaintiffs’ lawyers identified
“Guerra” by name as a potential target to influence the case’s ultimate
ruling. The plaintiffs’ lawyers even assigned code names to Zambrano and
Guerra, referring to them as the “puppeteer” and the “puppet.” On October 27,
2009, Fajardo sent Donziger and Yanza an e-mail stating, “The puppeteer won’t
move his puppet until the audience doesn’t [sic] pay him something.” On
November 27, 2009, Yanza sent Donziger an e-mail warning him about increased
costs due to paying the “puppeteer.”

This revelation is the latest in a recent series of instances where
individuals and groups formerly aligned with the plaintiffs have either
accused the plaintiffs’ lawyers of fraud or provided first-hand accounts of
corruption tainting the trial and judgment. Earlier this month, it was
revealed that Burford Capital, one of the largest financial backers of the
plaintiffs, accused the plaintiffs’ lawyers of fraud and other misconduct in
connection with their pursuit of their case. In December, a former
environmental consultant to the plaintiffs came forward with additional proof
of fraud and the fabrication of evidence on the part of the plaintiffs’
lawyers.

Because of the risks to Guerra and his family from coming forward, Chevron has
taken reasonable measures, based on third-party assessments, to protect
Guerra’s safety and security, and that of his family, including relocating
them from Ecuador and providing other assistance. In exchange for collecting
and turning over hard evidence corroborating his account, including his
personal computer, two cell phones, his day calendars, and bank, phone and
shipping records, Guerra received a total of $38,000 from Chevron, but as
Guerra affirms, he has “not . . . received any money or compensation in
exchange for signing this sworn declaration.”

Additional evidence produced by the plaintiffs’ American lawyers provides
corroborating proof that the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ representatives
participated in the drafting the judgment. In at least eight separate
instances, the judgment tracks the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ own documents, in some
cases word-for-word, reciting content from the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ internal
materials that did not form part of the record, as well as copying errors and
idiosyncratic reference citations that only appeared in the plaintiffs’
internal documents.

Chevron intends to provide all of this evidence to Ecuador’s Prosecutor
General and to request that his office investigate Zambrano and the
plaintiffs’ lawyers. The company has provided similar evidence of fraud,
corruption, and attorney misconduct to authorities in Ecuador in the past, but
to date, the government there has taken no apparent action to enforce its
laws.

“Chevron once again calls on Ecuadorian authorities, and authorities wherever
these plaintiffs’ lawyers are trying to advance their fraud, to investigate
and bring an end to this scheme,” said Pate. “Ecuador should not tolerate
American lawyers using Ecuador’s institutions and citizens as puppets.”

In now coming forward, Guerra has also agreed to make himself available to
appear before other courts, tribunals, and investigators if requested to do
so.

Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with
subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in
virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron explores for, produces
and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes
transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemical
products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy
efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future,
including biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information
about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.

Contact:

Chevron Corp.
Kent Robertson, +1-925-790-3819