‘Indigenous and farmer communities living in Ecuador’s rainforest have sent the U.S. Department of Justice what they say is evidence of Chevron’s fabrication of witness testimony and fraud during a RICO case in which U.S. federal judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled in favor of the oil giant. In his decision, Kaplan, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said multiple court rulings in Ecuador ordering Chevron to pay $9.5 billion in damages were the product of “egregious fraud.” In 2016, Kaplan’s ruling was affirmed by an appellate court.
But, according to the Ecuadorians and their longtime human rights lawyer Steven Donziger, Kaplan’s RICO ruling relied on fabricated testimony of judicial bribery delivered by a witness bribed by Chevron. They are demanding that the DOJ launch a criminal probe into Chevron and the company’s law firm in New York.
“The only fraud in the RICO case is Chevron’s fraud,” Donziger told AlterNet.
“As the lawyer for the affected communities, we have presented credible evidence that suggests Chevron presented false testimony to a U.S. federal court to undermine the Ecuador judgment against the company,” said Patricio Salazar, a lawyer in Ecuador representing the affected communities. “This is a strong test of the capacity of U.S. prosecutorial authorities to address claims against a powerful U.S. company that was found to have caused grievous harm to vulnerable indigenous groups in the rainforest.”‘