NEW YORK – (AFP) – Oil giant Chevron said it was disappointed by the US Supreme Court’s decision not to block an $18 billion fine sought by Ecuador for environmental damage in the Amazon.
“While Chevron is disappointed that the court denied our petition, we will continue to defend against the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ attempts to enforce the fraudulent Ecuadoran judgment,” the company said in an email statement.
Chevron Corporation appealed to the highest US court an Ecuadoran court order to pay $18.2 billion, which was raised to some $19 billion in August.
The Supreme Court, in a brief statement, offered no explanation for its decision to not take up the case.
The Ecuadoran complaint stems from years of unchecked pollution in the Amazon attributed to Texaco Petroleum, which Chevron acquired in 2001.
Chevron has called the Ecuadoran court order a “product of bribery, fraud.”
“Chevron is being blamed for a situation that is the sole responsibility of the Ecuadoran government and Petroecuador,” Ecuador’s state-owned oil company which was the majority partner in a consortium with Texaco, the US company says on its website.
The plaintiffs have filed lawsuits in Canada and Brazil to go after the company’s assets in third countries, saying Chevron has virtually no assets in Ecuador that could be seized.
Texaco polluted large areas of Ecuador’s Amazon jungle when it operated in the region from 1964 to 1990, a decade before being acquired by Chevron, according to indigenous groups and local farmers.
After years of litigation, an Ecuadoran court in February 2011 ordered Chevron to pay $18.2 billion in damages.
Chevron has accused the Ecuadoran judge who ruled on the case of fraud and breach of trust.
The San Ramon, California-based company vowed Tuesday to continue fighting the plaintiffs and their lawyers, saying it would “further expose their misconduct in our pending RICO case in New York and other proceedings.”
Chevron has filed a complaint in the US District Court in New York, alleging fraud and violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
On July 31, the New York federal court said it was premature to say that Chevron was entitled to have the damages blocked.
Shares in Dow member Chevron were up 0.2 percent at $117.82 in late-morning trade in New York.