The Supreme Court of Gibraltar has ruled in favor of U.S. oil company Chevron, awarding the corporation US $44,295,235 in damages for a fraudulent sentence delivered by Ecuador in 2011.
The Ecuadorean court demanded the corporation pay US$9.5 million to Indigenous communities for spilling millions of untreated oil onto the Amazon forest floor, but Chevron has spent 17 years fighting the ruling, taking the case to Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the United States.
"In courts around the world, this fraudulent scheme against Chevron Corporation continues to implode," said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron's vice-president and general counsel.
The California-based oil company denied responsibility and said that Steven Donziger, a former partner of Amazonian Recovery Ltd., and his partners orchestrated the drafting of a key environmental report and bribed the judge who presided over the case in Ecuador.
During a U.S. court hearing in 2015, it was determined that the primary plaintiff attorneys Donzinger and Pablo Fajardo were guilty of extortion, money laundering, electronic fraud, manipulating witnesses, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and obstructing justice.
According to a judicial note dated May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar turned the case against Amazonian Recovery – Fajardo, Luis Yanza and Ermel Chavez, representing the Indigenous community – "for their role in conspiracy to procure and impose a sentence fraudulent against Chevron," EFE reports.
The court ordered the defense team to reimburse the oil company for legal fees and any future expenses incurred.
Earlier this week, representatives from six Indigenous groups called on the state to honor its commitment to protect ancestral Indigenous lands from fracking companies and see that the court ruling and compensation be upheld.
The Amazon rainforest and rivers have suffered since 16 billion gallons of hydrocarbon spilled from the Chevron drilling zones over the course of several years. Community members are still experiencing the effects of the toxic waste, and at least one person died as a result.