Supreme Court of Gibraltar rules against Donziger offshore company; awards Chevron $28M

Source: Chevron

The Supreme Court of Gibraltar has issued a judgment against a Gibraltar-based company set up to receive and distribute funds resulting from a fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron.

The Supreme Court of Gibraltar has issued a judgment against Amazonia Recovery Ltd., a Gibraltar-based company set up to receive and distribute funds resulting from a fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron. The company was established in 2012 by Steven Donziger, the lead American lawyer behind the lawsuit, and his associates. The court awarded Chevron $28 million in damages and issued a permanent injunction against Amazonia, preventing the company from assisting or supporting the case against Chevron in any way.

"This decision is yet another example of how the international scheme against Chevron continues to erode," said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron's vice president and general counsel. "We will continue to seek to hold the perpetrators of this racket accountable for their actions."

Oil and gas giant Chevron filed claims against Amazonia before the Supreme Court of Gibraltar in 2014 asserting that the company is a vehicle to perpetuate the ongoing fraud scheme against Chevron and whose express purposes are to pay the expenses of the scheme; to procure additional funding; to issue shares of the company to lawyers, advisors and funders; and to receive and distribute proceeds from the scheme, including the fraudulent $9.5 Ecuadorian judgment. Chevron also alleged that Amazonia is owned and controlled by Donziger and his team and is essentially a clearinghouse for incoming funding and support and outgoing proceeds. The company was established for the purpose of ensuring that any proceeds realized from the judgment against Chevron would be kept out of Ecuador, allowing Donziger and his team to control who got paid, in what order and in what amount.

Donziger's Ecuadorian associate Pablo Fajardo, who is also a director of Amazonia, initially filed a statement of defense on behalf of the Gibraltar-based company. However, despite several orders by the court, Amazonia failed to participate further in the proceedings in violation of the court's orders. As a result, on Dec. 9, 2015, the court issued a default judgment against Amazonia, awarding Chevron $28 million in damages based on legal fees, and a permanent injunction prohibiting Amazonia from further participation in the scheme.

On March 4, 2014, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador was the product of fraud and racketeering activity, finding it unenforceable in the United States and holding Donziger liable for RICO violations. In his opinion, Judge Kaplan described Amazonia as a "Gibraltar company...through which the property collected on the judgment is to be funneled." While Donziger and his team are appealing certain aspects of Judge Kaplan's decision, they have not challenged the court's factual findings, which detail the extent of the fraudulent scheme.

Chevron still has conspiracy claims pending in Gibraltar against Pablo Fajardo, Luis Yanza and Ermel Chavez, who are directors of Amazonia.

This is the latest in a series of setbacks for Donziger and his team. In May, a Brazilian Deputy Prosecutor issued an opinion recommending that the country's high court not recognize the Ecuadorian judgment for enforcement because it was procured by corrupt means. Additionally, a number of former supporters of the lawsuit have repudiated the unethical tactics of Donziger and have abandoned their financial interest in the case, including his principal investor and other funders. During the RICO trial more than a dozen former insiders and allies testified against Donziger, including his former co-counsel, environmental consultants, employees and Ecuadorian collaborators. 

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