What Reporters Are Writing About Chevron’s Bribery Scheme: About Diego Borja, who secretly recorded the tapes and participated in the bribery scheme: Worked for Chevron at the oil contamination sites in the lawsuit as recently as March and maintains an office in the same building as Chevron’s lawyers in Quito. Recently, Quito media has reported that Borja has an office in a small building where Chevron’ local Ecuadorian legal team also has offices. On 9/1, Bloomberg’s Karen Gullo reported that Borja was not, as Chevron described, just a “former logistics contractor” for the oil company. His job was to assist Chevron in testing soil for oil contamination during court inspections. In the same story, she reported that Borja had re- located to the US. The contractor, Diego Borja, worked for Chevron delivering equipment and assisting in soil inspections that Nunez oversaw in recent months as part of a lawsuit seeking damages from the company for pollution allegedly left by Texaco Inc. before it was acquired by Chevron in 2001. Borja left Ecuador for the U.S. on June 24, according to migration police records in Quito. On 9/4, Reuters reporter Alexandra Valencia included additional information from the plaintiffs that Borja had worked for Chevron as recently as March, only a few weeks before he secretly recorded one of the videotapes. The Amazon Defense Coalition said in a statement on Tuesday that Borja had worked for Chevron on the environmental trial during the final eight field inspections conducted in March, and that one of is cousins works for Chevron. About Patricio Garcia, who allegedly offered the bribe: Contrary to Chevron’s press materials, Garcia is not a party official, and the bribery meeting occurred in a house owned by Garcia, not in the ruling party’s offices. Garcia admitted to meeting with Borja in the offices of Chevron’s legal team. Recently, Quito media has reported that Garcia said he met with Borja in the offices of Chevron’s legal team in Quito, where Borja also has an office. On 9/7, Dow Jones News Service reporters Angel Gonzalez and Mercedes Alvaro provided additional information on Garcia, who Chevron described as an “official with the party (Alianza PAIS)” but he is not from all accounts. Gonzalez and Mercedes wrote: Paulo Sanchez, administrator of Alianza PAIS' main office in Quito, said that Garcia isn't a leader of the party and that Alianza officials are checking whether he is enrolled in the movement. Sanchez, however, said he has seen Garcia in political rallies and at the party's office. "I have seen him, especially during electoral campaign times," Sanchez said. "Surely he must have been collecting flyers or campaign material." On 10/1, Bloomberg reporters Adriana Brasileiro and Karen Gullo reported that Garcia is not a top party official or close to government leaders, contrary to Chevron’s press materials. Garcia identified himself as a car salesman, and Garcia’s lawyer said he is boastful. Brasileiro and Gullo wrote: Eduardo Paredes, a member of Alianza Pais’s political coordination office, said Garcia isn’t registered as a member, though he may have worked in informal party committees. “The link with Alianza Pais doesn’t exist,” Paredes said in an interview at his office in Quito. “We looked at our member registry database -- we have about 350,000 registered members who signed up to vote in primaries we held in January -- and this person is not registered.” Garcia, 55, a car salesman in Quito, said ....“They made it look like I had all kinds of connections at the top, but I’m just like the baker on the corner: I know a lot of people, I talk to everybody, but I’m just a baker,” he said in a Sept. 29 interview in Quito. Cristian Zambrano, Garcia’s lawyer, said ..... “Garcia is the kind of person who likes to talk so he can look good in front of people, and that’s what he was doing in that video....He has no connections.” The two Bloomberg reporters also wrote that the meeting with Garcia and with Chevron contractor Diego Borja and American businessman Wayne Hansen was in Garcia’s house, not in the ruling party’s offices, as Chevron’s press materials maintained. Garcia explained to the reporters how he met Borja and Hansen. They wrote: Garcia said he has been a member of the Alianza Pais party since 2006. He said he sought donations for the party, catered party rallies and loaned the party a house that he owns in Quito. He said he was approached by an Ecuadorean businessman at a rally in February about getting water-treatment contracts in Ecuador. The businessman, a contractor for Chevron, said he was working with a U.S. businessman who wanted to invest in water- treatment and pollution-cleanup projects in Ecuador, Garcia said. The Ecuadorean businessman asked for help on how to channel the investments, he said. That led to two meetings at the house that he had loaned to the party. The gatherings were secretly recorded by the two businessmen, using a pen and watch equipped with tiny cameras, according to Chevron. To the plaintiffs’ knowledge, no reporter has written that Garcia directed Borja to bring the money to him, Garcia, at his house, when asked how to distribute the alleged kickback from the contract to the plaintiffs. Transcript of Meeting 4, page, 3: BORJA: But, for the plaintiffs, who gets the money, man? Fajardo? (plaintiffs’ attorney Pablo Fajardo) GARCÍA: No. On this matter, we’re going to handle it here. BORJA: You mean Alianza País would receive the payment here? GARCÍA: Right. About American businessman Wayne Hansen, who secretly recorded the tapes and participated in the bribery scheme: “...Chevron (is) the biggest good Samaritan ... or they have allied interest with this man.” On 9/9, Bloomberg reporter Karen Gullo quoted a former federal prosecutor who said Hansen could face criminal charges. Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said secretly recording the meetings could be a criminal or civil violation. Companies often cover legal bills or provide attorneys for executives facing lawsuits connected to their duties, she said. “Either Chevron has turned into the biggest good Samaritan out there or they have allied interests with this man,” Levenson said in a telephone interview. “The balls in Chevron’s court to give a better explanation of whether they’ll pay his legal costs out of the goodness of their heart or as part of a contractual arrangement.” On 9/10, an article by San Francisco Chronicle reporter David Baker included a comment from Hansen that wins the understatement of the year award: Reached by telephone, Hansen directed questions to his attorney, saying only, "I'm just a businessman trying to do business in Ecuador, and this all blows up." His attorney could not be reached for further comment. About Hansen and Borja’s Fourth Meeting Questions remain about whether Chevron instructed Borja and Hansen on what to say and what questions to ask during the fourth meeting. On 10/10, The New York Times raised questions around Borja and Hansen’s motivations and why they arranged and secretly-recorded a fourth meeting on June 15th, after Chevron officials told them not to attend any more meetings, according to Chevron’s version of events. Reporters Simon Romero and Cliff Krauss wrote: Company spokesmen say that when Mr. Borja, an Ecuadorean logistics contractor working with an American businessman, brought tapes of three meetings to Chevron, company officials urged him not to go to more meetings because doing so could be dangerous. “Chevron had no involvement in the videotaping,” said Kent Robertson, a company spokesman. “Chevron referred this matter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Ecuador’s prosecutor general after making every reasonable effort to verify the evidence that was presented.” Mr. Borja went back for a fourth meeting, taped it, and gave more evidence to the company. But no one has yet explained what motivated him and his partner, Wayne Hansen, an American, to travel around Ecuador meeting officials and collecting evidence of a bribery scheme, especially one in which they stood to gain lucrative contracts. About Lawyers For Hansen and Borja: On 9/9, Bloomberg reporter Karen Gullo wrote that Hansen had hired a lawyer and that Chevron may pay his legal fees. 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 yesterday in an e- mailed statement. Hansen has “no relationship” to Chevron, the company has said. On 9/17, American Lawyer reporter Brian Baxter wrote that Chevron would consider covering legal fees for both men: Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson told The Am Law Daily that the company would consider covering legal costs for both Borja and Hansen should they incur them, given the fact that it would only be fair since the two men came to Chevron with the recordings. Baxter described the two attorneys representing Hansen and Borja. Both attorneys are based in San Francisco, Chevron’s backyard. Two San Francisco Bay Area lawyers best known for representing clients in performance-enhancing drug cases have been retained by individuals that secretly videotaped an alleged bribery scheme in Ecuador related to a mammoth environmental mass torts case against Chevron. (Cristina) Arguedas (Borja’s attorney) has a string of high-profile clients to her résumé, representing former Hewlett-Packard general counsel Ann Baskins in the company's pretexting scandal, former Apple legal chief Nancy Heinen on options-backdating charges and ex-Milberg partner David Bershad in a kickback scheme. She currently represents former baseball star Barry Bonds on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Along with partner Edward Swanson, (Mary) McNamara (Hansen’s attorney) represented BALCO founder Victor Conte in a steroids distribution investigation that ensnared several high-profile athletes, including Bonds. About Judge Nunez: Says “Yes, sir.” off camera. While some reporters accepted Chevron’s statement that Judge Nunez said Chevron was guilty in his meeting with Hansen and Borja, many others saw and heard something different. Calling for an investigation into not only the judge’s actions but also Chevron’s, a Los Angeles Times’ editorial on 9/5 stated: On the tapes, the men -- a former Chevron contractor and an American businessman -- press Nuñez to say how he will rule, without success. Then, as Nuñez prepares to leave, one of the men again maintains that Chevron is guilty, and Nuñez replies, "Yes, sir." To Chevron, that cinches the argument. But on the video, it's unclear to whom the judge is speaking and whether he is responding to the question or just trying to end the meeting. On 9/1, Financial Times reporter Sheila McNulty wrote: The judge refuses several times on the tape to reveal the verdict, before saying, “Yes, sir,” when asked if he will find Chevron guilty. Nonetheless, the video begs the question whether Judge Nunez understood what he was being asked. Time.com reporter Stephan Küffner has been the only reporter to report that Nunez’ remark was made off camera, preventing viewers from knowing if Nunez actually made the remark at that moment or if he was speaking to someone else. (9/2) Nuñez appears to be merely explaining to them the judicial process involved in the Chevron suit. But at one point he is asked by the American, businessman Wayne Hansen, if Chevron is el culpable — the guilty party. Nuñez, off camera, answers, "Sí, señor" — "Yes, sir." On 9/1, San Francisco Chronicle’s David Baker was the only reporter from a large daily newspaper to publish the entire conversation in print: Borja and Hansen ask (Nunez) several times whether he will rule against Chevron, and he repeatedly tells them they must wait for the verdict to find out. These excerpts are from Chevron's transcript Hansen: They've been the guilty party for more than many years, right? Nuñez: You'll see that, sir. What you want to find out is whether it's going to be guilty or not, I'm telling you that I can't tell you that, I'm a judge, and I have to tell you in the ruling, not right now. But as Nuñez prepares to leave the meeting, Hansen asks him again. Hansen: Oh, no, I, I know clearly how it is, you say, Chevron is the guilty party. Nuñez: Yes, sir. On 9/4, AP reporter Jeanneth Valdivieso reported Nunez’ denials: Nunez says that he never solicited or received bribes, or said that he would rule against the company. "Of what can they find me guilty with these hackneyed, edited and manipulated videos? Nothing," he asked. On 9/4, Dow Jones’ Mercedes Alvaro also quoted Nunez: Nunez has contended that the video footage was manipulated. Chevron has said the videos are authentic and haven't been doctored. "I have communicated with both sides in this case that I recuse myself from continuing with this case," Nunez told Dow Jones Newswires. "However, I will continue with my work as a judge, and as president of the Lago Agrio Court, because I have not committed any illegality or irregularity." About The Recusal’s Impact On Lawsuit On 9/5, San Francisco Chronicle’s David Baker, Dow Jones’ Mercedes Alvaro and the Los Angeles Times editorial included information from the plaintiffs about why Judge Nunez’ recusal was not likely to result in a delay of the lawsuit. Baker: Since the current version of the lawsuit was filed in Ecuador in 2003, four judges have presided over it, most of them serving two-year rotations as specified by Ecuadoran law. Almost all the evidence in the case was submitted to the court before Nuñez took over. Alvaro: While the latest development may be a public relations coup for Chevron, it's unlikely to fundamentally alter the lawsuit's state of play. According to Ecuador court procedures, the next judge will basically pick up where Nunez left off. Both sides of the case had expected a ruling against Chevron by the end of the year. Los Angeles Times: Chevron now hopes to have Nuñez's past rulings annulled and commence an investigation into the court-appointed expert who determined the $27-billion damage assessment. It is also possible, however, that Nuñez's recusal won't really matter. The court presidency rotates in Ecuador, and Nuñez received the case from his predecessor when he took the position; another change in judges won't necessarily cause a long delay. It merely adds one more skirmish to a lawsuit of grave consequence to the suffering people of the Ecuadorean rain forest. About Ecuador’s Attorney General: Has Requested Chevron’s lawyers to appear for depositions. On 9/9, Dow Jones News Service reporter Mercedes Alvaro wrote that Ecuador’s attorney general wants Ecuador’s state prosecutor to bring a legal suit against Chevron in the U.S. under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. She also wrote that the attorney general has requested Chevron’s lawyers and others to appear for depositions. Ecuador's attorney general wants legal action in the U.S. against Chevron Corp. (CVX), after the company released videos that it says showed undue influence on a court case involving Chevron. In a statement, Attorney General Washington Pesantez said Chevron could be held accountable under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and called on Ecuador's state prosecutor to open a legal suit in the U.S. The attorney general's office has requested that Chevron's lawyers appear for depositions. That government office also wants other people who appear in the videos to appear for depositions. About Ecuadorian Officials: Correa Says Government Had No Involvement On 9/12, Reuters News Service reporter Hugh Bronstein reported: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said his government had no involvement in an alleged bribery scheme linked to a $27 billion environmental damages lawsuit against Chevron. About Spanish Translations: On 9/1, Bloomberg’s Karen Gullo included information from Ecuador’s Prosecutor General that Chevron’s Spanish translations were suspect. The videotapes disclosed by Chevron are heavily edited and the company’s Spanish translations are poor and misleading, the agency said. On 9/2, AP’s Jeanneth Valdivieso reported the same. The Ecuadorean Solicitor General's Office said it was asking Chevron to hand over any and all evidence of possible misconduct for consideration. However, it noted in a statement that "a cursory review of the heavily edited tapes that Chevron posted to its website shows that, in some instances, Chevron's own translation of the Spanish into English is poor and, in other instances, misleading." On 9/16, the Miami Herald ran a letter to the editor from the Ecuadorean Solicitor General, which described one of inaccuracies in the translation: For example, while Chevron's transcripts contend that the presiding judge somehow ``admitted'' that any appeal was merely a ``formality,'' the proper translation of the Spanish to English is that ``formalisms must be observed,'' which is a correct statement of Ecuadorean law. Deliberate or not, the Chevron transcripts were mistaken.
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