As part of an ongoing lawsuit between Chevron and plaintiffs from various Amazonian villages, an Ecuadorian court has ordered the seizure of approximately US$ 200 million worth of the company's assets.
From the US$ 200 million, roughly US$ 96 million is money that the Ecuadorian government owed Chevron, which had been held in Ecuadorian bank accounts by the company and licensing fees accrued from the use of Chevron’s trademarks in the country.
This most recent ruling comes as a further blow to the giant company, which was found liable for US$ 19 billion worth of damages incurred by Texaco (purchased by Chevron in 2001). Between 1964 and 1992, Texaco was accused of placing drilling waste in unlined pits, causing contamination of the area and illness amongst the locals.
The ruling as been hailed by the plaintiffs' lead lawyer as “a huge first step for the rainforest villagers on the road to collecting the entire US$ 19 billion judgement.”
Chevron has fought hard to get the case dismissed, but the US Supreme court overruled a recent attempt to block enforcement of the Ecuadorian ruling in the US. The company claims that the plaintiffs’ case is fraudulent and has even begun a racketeering case against one New York-based lawyer and his clients.
A spokesman for Chevron, James Craig, was quoted as saying that the “order is not surprising, since the plaintiffs have shown they are able to get any order they wish granted by the Lago Agrio court. In the past the plaintiffs’ lawyers have been involved in ghost-writing orders for the court.”
Chevron also has plans to challenge the ruling under via an international panel convened as part of a trade agreement between the US and Ecuador.
Edited from various sources by David Bizley