Plaintiffs' Expert Reveals Fraud by Lawyers in Ecuador Lawsuit
In Sworn Deposition, Expert Denies Authoring Reports Submitted in His Name
SAN RAMON, Calif., Apr. 5, 2010 – Lawyers for the plaintiffs suing Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) submitted fraudulent reports to an Ecuadorian court claiming dangerous contamination was found at Amazon oil well sites, the original technical expert for the plaintiffs revealed in sworn testimony last week.
Charles W. Calmbacher, Ph.D, a U.S. biologist and industrial hygienist who was the first expert appointed on behalf of the plaintiffs in the litigation pending against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, testified in a court-ordered deposition last week that reports associated with inspections of the Sacha 94 and Shushufindi 48 well sites were submitted in his name without his knowledge or consent. Dr. Calmbacher said he had never concluded the sites posed a risk to human health or the environment and that his opinions were known to the plaintiffs' legal and technical teams in Ecuador. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs' lawyers submitted reports contradictory to Dr. Calmbacher's conclusions, fraudulently using his signature months after he ceased his participation in the case.
"Their own expert has testified that two of the plaintiffs' earliest reports are fraudulent, confirming that the trial in Ecuador has been tainted from the outset," said Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel. "Chevron will petition the Lago Agrio court to strike the plaintiffs' false Sacha 94 and Shushufindi 48 reports and call on authorities to investigate the misconduct."
After the lawsuit was filed against Chevron in 2003, the plaintiffs' lawyers nominated Dr. Calmbacher, and the court appointed him to conduct judicial inspections of oil well sites in the former Petroecuador-Texaco Petroleum Co. concession area to assess alleged environmental damage. Dr. Calmbacher led those inspections for the plaintiffs, supervising the taking of soil and water samples, from August to October 2004.
The fraudulent reports were filed in February and March 2005, and later used by Lago Agrio court appointee Richard Cabrera in his $27 billion damage assessment against Chevron. Cabrera never investigated Sacha 94 or Shushufindi 48, yet specified more than $101 million damages based on the fabricated findings. Dr. Calmbacher also inspected Sacha 6 and Sacha 21, yet the plaintiffs' lawyers failed to submit reports containing his conclusions regarding those well sites. Dr. Calmbacher testified that he did not find a risk to human health or the environment, or a need for further clean-up, at any of the Texaco Petroleum-remediated sites he inspected. He also said he never concluded that Texaco Petroleum's remediation in Ecuador in the 1990's was not successful.
In his March 29 deposition ordered by a U.S. federal court, Dr. Calmbacher said he sent signed signature pages and initialized blank pages to the plaintiffs' legal team by overnight courier in late 2004 for the submission of reports he thought would contain his true findings. Dr. Calmbacher also testified that the plaintiffs' lawyers never informed him that the Lago Agrio court had ordered him to answer questions on the reports after they were submitted under his signature in 2005.
Chevron has long claimed the lawsuit is baseless and tainted by scores of irregularities and fraud. The company last September filed a demand for arbitration with the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague asserting that Ecuador's handling of the Lago Agrio litigation amounts to a breach of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Chevron is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company's success is driven by the ingenuity and commitment of its employees and their application of the most innovative technologies in the world. Chevron is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. The company explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and other energy products; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.
Published: April 2010