Latin America & Caribbean

Ecuadoreans to sue Chevron in Argentina over pollution

Servio Curipoma shows what is under the soil on the land where he lived
Servio Curipoma is one of thousands of Ecuadoreans who sued for damages

Ecuadorean plaintiffs say they plan to sue Chevron in Argentina to try to seize the oil company's assets there.

The group accuses Chevron of polluting land in the Amazon region for almost three decades.

Last year, an Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron to pay $19bn (£11.8bn) in damages.

Since Chevron has few assets in Ecuador, the plaintiffs are trying to get the ruling, which Chevron says is illegitimate, enforced abroad.

Juan Pablo Sainz, one of the lawyers representing the Ecuadorean group, said they would ask for Chevron's assets in Argentina "to be frozen, to prevent Chevron from selling them".

'Bribery and fraud'

Mr Sainz said they had already filed similar suits in Canada and Brazil and were considering doing the same in other countries.

Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson told Reuters news agency that "if the plaintiffs's lawyers believed they had a legitimate judgement, they would seek to enforce it in the United States".

Chevron has in the past said the original ruling against the company was a product of "bribery and fraud".

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court declined to block the original ruling against Chevron.

The judgement by the Ecuadorean court originally ordered Chevron to pay $8.6bn in environmental damages, but that was more than doubled because the oil company did not apologise publicly.

The Ecuadorean plaintiffs say Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, dumped toxic materials in the Ecuadorean Amazon between 1964 and 1992.

Chevron says Texaco spent $40m cleaning up the area during the 1990s, and signed an agreement with Ecuador in 1998 absolving it of any further responsibility.

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