A fantastic case involving multinational oil corporations, myriad allegations of mass corruption, clandestine videos filmed with items purchased from the Sky Mall catalog, and, incongruously, the sleepy nearby suburb of San Ramon took a new twist in San Francisco court.
The Republic of Ecuador was last week granted the right to subpoena Chevron operative Diego Borja, who has purportedly described his line of work as "dirty tricks." On Oct. 1, Borja will have to leave his home in an East Bay gated community -- Chevron now puts up Borja and his wife a short jaunt down the road from its San Ramon headquarters -- and submit to a deposition at a San Francisco law firm. This is the latest development in a John Le Carre-like case going back to Ecuadorian jungle dwellers' claims oil drilling ravaged their land between 1964 and 1990.
The 18-year-old case against Chevron subsidiary Texaco is being tried in the city of Lago Agrio. The $27 billion suit took a turn for the theatrical last year, however, when Borja and a man named Wayne Hansen posed as contractors and secretly recorded a discussion with the judge presiding over the Lago Agrio case with cameras concealed in a pen and wristwatch.
Chevron alleged the resultant tapes revealed the judge had already made up his mind regarding the case, and was "soliciting" a bribe. It also claimed Borja and Hansen were simply "good Samaritans" who felt compelled to turn over this footage and pull off this sting unprompted. It turns out, however, that Hansen was a convicted felon who'd done time for drug trafficking. And Borja, according to documents submitted before San Francisco Judge Edward Chen
, was "not an innocent third party who just happened to learn of the alleged bribery scheme but rather was a longtime associate of Chevron whom Chevron would pay for any favorable testimony."
A childhood friend of Borja's, Santiago Escobar, released hours of recorded discussions to investigators hired by the plaintiffs. During a Skype discussion, the operative purportedly said
, "I have correspondence that talks about things you can't even imagine, dude. ... I can't talk about them here, dude, because I'm afraid, but they're things that can make the Amazons win this just like that [snapping his fingers]."
Accordingly, Ecuador alleges Borja "has evidence in his possession, custody, or control that would be incriminating to Chevron." They want it. It remains to be seen whether, on Oct. 1, they'll get it. Read a copy of the subpoena ordering Borja to San Francisco here
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