CBC goes to court to get Chevron to unseal documents in $9.5B US environmental battle

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CBC Tidings has filed a motion to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to force Chevron Corp. to unseal court best performances in a decades-long environmental battle with approximately 30,000 Indigenous Ecuadorian villagers.

An plea hearing in Toronto on Tuesday will continue to hear arguments with meaningful implications and will raise the question of what responsibility Canadian corporations have planned for possible harm caused abroad by their corporate affiliates.

The prove, first launched in 1993, has moved through three countries and numberless courts. The villagers initially alleged years of oil drilling contaminated their irrigate and soil. An Ecuadorian court awarded them $18.2 billion after 18 years; that amount was later lower to $9.5 billion.

But Chevron Corp. no longer has assets in Ecuador, so Autochthonous groups have taken their fight to other countries incorporating Brazil, Argentina, the United States and now Canada.

Phil Fontaine, a late national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, recently visited the Lago Agrio district of Ecuador and says what he saw there was “devastating.” He hopes the court disposition be “open” and the Ecuadorian Indigenous people will finally feel “empowered by the finding.”

Phil Fontaine, former head of the Assembly of First Nations, recently stayed the affected region of Ecuador. He told CBC what he saw there was ‘devastating.’ (Karen Hinton/Submitted)

The plaintiffs scrap Chevron Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chevron Corporation.

Alan Lenczer, permitted counsel for the plaintiffs, said they are entitled to the money. He told CBC Front-page news they will continue to argue that Chevron Canada is “owned” and “functioned in every material respect” by their parent company.

Chevron is signifying that the case should not move forward because the judgment, from the first handed down in Ecuador, was based on fraud and racketeering activities.

Chevron Corp. lectured CBC News they do not believe that the “fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment is enforceable in any court that respects the rule of law.” Previously, lawyers have said “[w]e’re going to fight this until Inferno freezes over and then fight it out on the ice.”

Lenczner says that the U.S. purposefulness is “irrelevant” to what’s going on in Canada and “if they want to undermine the Ecuadorian judgment here in Canada they’ve got to do it in Canada and they haven’t done that yet.”

Chevron, Canada and the CBC

Chevron is remonstrating that Chevron Canada is a distinct entity and not an asset of the parent associates and is neither responsible for their debts nor liable to have its assets charmed to satisfy such debts.

The battle made its way all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2015 the court affirmed Ontario’s realm over the claim and sent the case back to Ontario Superior Court.

In January of 2017, Ontario Nonpareil Court Justice Glenn Hainey dismissed the plaintiff’s motion on the essence that Chevron Corp. has no assets in Canada and the shares and assets of its meandering subsidiary, Chevron Canada, are not available to pay the judgment.

The case is in Canada in on the whole because Chevron Corp. no longer has assets in Ecuador. Chevron’s kings counsels argue Chevron Canada is a separate entity from its parent convention, while the plaintiffs argue it is a wholly owned subsidiary. (David Bell/CBC)

Profuse of the key documents to support Chevron’s argument are sealed.

“Without access to the sealed significants, CBC/Radio-Canada’s reporting on the matter will be restricted, and the public may be deprived of signal, reliable and direct sources of information on the issues of public interest solicited,” the CBC affidavit states.

“The issues underlying the proceeding are matters of significant free interest and public importance, including Aboriginal rights in the face of environmental injury caused by private corporations, remediation of environmental damage, and the costs of remediation.”

Fontaine held getting the documents unsealed is important because everyone is entitled to be acquainted with how corporate interests like Chevron are behaving. He believes their negating behaviour is what is behind their “closed-book approach.”

Amazon Skinned for, Steelworkers Humanity Fund and Friends of the Earth Canada have also alphabetized a joint application to unseal documents stating that “preventing the unrestricted from accessing Chevron’s filings violates the principle of open objectiveness.”

The CBC motion is scheduled to be heard on June 20, 2018.

25-year legal battle

The duel began in 1993 when Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in 2001, was accused by Ecuadorian villagers of modify and soil contamination caused by years oil-drilling activities.

The Ecuadorian Rustic Court awarded the villagers $18.2 billion US judgment in 2011. That amount was later up to $9.5 billion US in 2013.

The energy giant argued the judgment was obtained fraudulently subsuming blackmailing the judge, fabricating evidence and ghostwriting the final ruling.  

The dispute moved to the United States, where the federal Court of Appeals tallied with Chevron. The court ruled the judgment was the product of “egregious humbug” and racketeering activity, and unenforceable in the United States.

“Despite attempts by the plaintiff’s attorneys and others to relocate the discussion to unrelated topics, the question before the court remains whether Chevron Canada Predetermined can be held liable for a judgment against U.S.-based Chevron Corporation in Ecuador that a U.S. Federal Court has set was the product of corruption and fraud,” Sean Comey, senior advisor for Chevron Corp. blow the whistle oned CBC News.

“That finding has been unanimously affirmed by a U.S. Federal Court of Supplicates and is now final.”

Larger issues at play 

Regardless of the dispute of the Ecuadorian common sense, the plaintiffs and environmental supporters say a bigger issue is at stake.

“Chevron endures to try to hide everything it can from public scrutiny, but the truth is it can’t
hide the grounds of what it did in Ecuador,” said Paul Paz y Miño, associate director of environmental troop Amazon Watch. “The public needs to see the truth behind Chevron’s lawfulness aversion and efforts of impunity abuse of justice.”

Phil Fontaine, who blueprints to be at the proceedings in Toronto Tuesday with a large group of supporters, said if the courts preside over in favour of the Ecuadorian indigenous interests, the settlement will enable the Autochthonous community there to finally recapture some of what they departed — jobs in agriculture. Those jobs are “essential for the future wellbeing of those Original communities,” he said.

Benjamin Zarnett, legal counsel representing Chevron Canada, determined CBC News: “Chevron Canada is looking forward to making its submissions to the Court of Sue supporting the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which discharged this claim against Chevron Canada, against whom the Ecuadorian plaintiffs assert no wrongdoing.”

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