Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Corruption: Videotape evidence of judge in Chevron Ecuador case demonstrates erosion of rule of law

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, has spoken out against videos implicating an Ecuadorian judge presiding over the environmental lawsuit against Chevron.

Judge Juan Nunez, the key legal figure in the Chevron Ecuador environmental damage case, is captured in a video shown here explaining that he plans to rule against the oil giant and for an award of $27 billion "more or less". The judge explains that the verdict will happen and that Chevron will be blocked from filing an appeal of his ruling.

Ms. Rickard said, "The video evidence released today in the Chevron case in Ecuador showing what appears to be gross judicial misconduct, direct interference by the Ecuadorian government, and multi-million dollar bribery is extremely troubling, and calls into serious question the ability for U.S. companies to continue doing business in countries like Ecuador where the rule of law has been so degraded.

"Chevron has alerted authorities both in Ecuador and in the United States, and both governments should investigate this evidence in a serious and expeditious manner.

"Further, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that Congress should consider this matter when it evaluates the status of U.S.-Ecuadorian trade preferences as part of the Andean Trade Preferences Act renewal next January. These trade preferences are a privilege, not a right, and Congress should consider the larger pattern of disregard for the rule of law when it decides whether to extend them to Ecuador yet again."

"Perhaps the most fundamental ingredient in fair trade between nations is a strong, impartial judicial system founded upon the rule of law. In this case and other recent cases, we are seeing an increasing erosion of the rule of law involving mass action, plaintiff-lawyer-driven civil lawsuits.

"Failure to take this latest evidence of corruption seriously will only increase their incidences, and will lead to further strain on global commerce and free trade."

Source: U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform