Friday, September 11, 2009

U.S. businessman gave recording of corrupt Ecuadorian judge to Chevron

SAN RAMON, Calif. - Chevron Corp., battling a $27 billion environmental lawsuit in Ecuador, said it may pay the legal bills of a U.S. businessman whose secret recordings of meetings with the judge on the case led the jurist to step down.
Californian Wayne Hansen used a pen equipped with a tiny camera to record meetings he had in May and June with Judge Juan Nunez in Ecuador, Chevron admitted on Aug. 31.
Hansen told the judge he was seeking contracts for his company to clean up oil contamination if Nunez ruled Chevron was responsible for environmental damage in the Amazon Basin, according to Chevron’s translation of the conversations, which were in Spanish.
Chevron alleges that Nunez disclosed his intention to rule against the company at the meetings. Ecuador Prosecutor General Washington Pesantez said on Sept. 8 that the recordings, which Chevron provided to the government, show Nunez told Hansen that he would have to wait until Nunez issued a decision to find out the ruling. Pesantez said he’s investigating the matter.
If Hansen “incurs future legal costs related to this matter, it would only be fair that we consider assisting him,” Kent Robertson, a Chevron spokesman, said in an e- mailed statement.
Chevron paid for Ecuadorean contractor Diego Borja, who also attended and recorded the meetings with Hansen, to leave Ecuador and is providing him with financial support, Robertson said on Sept. 1, without disclosing specific amounts.
Borja and Hansen were asked to pay a $3 million bribe by a political operative in Ecuador’s ruling party to get pollution cleanup contracts, Chevron says the recordings show.
Hansen declined to comment and referred questions to San Francisco criminal defense attorney Mary McNamara, who confirmed that she’s representing him.

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