Chevron claims forged signatures in Ecuador lawsuit

Chevron Corp said litigation against the firm in an Ecuadorian court should be terminated because a forensic specialist discovered many forged signatures on the document that initially authorized the legal action.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 – Chevron Corp said litigation against the firm in an Ecuadorian court should be terminated because a forensic specialist discovered many forged signatures on the document that initially authorized the legal action.

“The Ecuadorian authorities cannot continue to ignore the mounting evidence of fraud in the Lago Agrio litigation without violating their duties under the Ecuadorian constitution and international law,” said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice-president and general counsel.

Forensic document examiner Gus R. Lesnevich said at least 20 of the 48 signatures were faked on the document that purported to ratify the 2003 complaint and appoint Ecuadorian lawyer Alberto Wray as plaintiffs’ counsel , Chevron said.

Lesnevich compared plaintiffs’ signatures on the legal document with their signatures from national identification cards. In addition, an electrostatic detection device revealed the legal document bore indentations “consistent with someone practicing the writing of a signature.”

The forensic analysis was filed in the Provincial Court of Sucumbios along with a motion calling on Judge Nicolas Zambrano to declare the lawsuit null and void. Chevron also asked the judge to forward the matter to Ecuador’s Prosecutor General’s Office for criminal investigation.

“We intend to seek full redress against the harm that has been done in the name of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and to hold accountable all of those who have knowingly participated in this unlawful scheme,” said Pate.

In responding to Chevron's allegation of forgery, Pablo Fajardo, the lead Ecuadorian lawyer on the case, said most of the signatories on the lawsuit have no formal education and have signed via a fingerprint only a handful of documents in their entire lives.

“It should thus not be surprising that any two signatures a person makes over the course of an entire life would look different, but it does not suggest fraud as Chevron claims,” Fajardo said.

Chevron denies allegations it was responsible for environmental and social harms in Ecuador’s Amazon region. The oil company said it never conducted oil production operations there, and Texaco Petroleum Co. fully remediated its share of environmental impacts arising from oil production operations before 1992.

After the remediation was certified by all responsible agencies of the Ecuadorian government, Texaco received a complete release from Ecuador's national, provincial, and municipal governments before Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001, Chevron said.
“All legitimate scientific evidence submitted during the litigation in Ecuador proves…remediation was effective and that the sites it remediated pose no unreasonable risks for human health or the environment,” Chevron said.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com

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