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November 2012, Week 2

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Thu, 8 Nov 2012 22:13:05 -0500
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Argentine Judge Embargoes Chevron Assets on Spill

by the Associated Press

November 7, 2012
Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121107/lt-argentina-chevron-ecuador/

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - An Argentine judge embargoed Chevron
Corp.'s assets in Argentina to carry out an Ecuadorean court
order that awarded $19 billion to plaintiffs in an
environmental damage lawsuit in the Amazon, a lawyer said
Wednesday.

Judge Adrian Elcuj Miranda ordered the freezing of Chevron's
assets in Argentina as plaintiffs try to collect the judgment
won in Ecuador last year, Argentine lawyer Enrique Bruchou
told reporters in a conference call.

The order states that all the cash flows from sales and bank
deposits be frozen until the $19 billion is collected, Bruchou
said. The order applies to 100 percent of Chevron's capital
stock in Argentina, 100 percent of its dividends and its
entire minority stake in Oleoductos del Valle. It also
includes 40 percent of any current or future money that
Chevron Argentina holds as well as 40 percent of all its crude
sales.

Bruchou said the decision in the largest environmental suit in
the world should send a strong message to foreign investors
that they must apply the same environmental standards wherever
they do business. Similar lawsuits have been filed this year
in Canada and Brazil.

"We're making history in the preservation of the environment,"
Bruchou said.

"This is a ruling that sets an example. What we're telling the
world is that in Latin America we want to demand that whoever
comes to exploit does it following the same health an
environmental standards as they do in their countries of
origin," he said.

Chevron officials said the company knew of neither a filing by
the plaintiffs nor an order from a court in Argentina. They
also said Chevron's operations in Argentina had nothing to do
with the case in Ecuador.

"The plaintiffs' lawyers have no legal right to embargo
subsidiary assets in Argentina and should not be allowed to
disrupt Argentina's pursuit of its important energy
resources," said James Craig, a Chevron spokesman for Latin
America and Africa. "The Ecuador judgment is a product of
bribery, fraud, and it is illegitimate."

Chevron has refused to pay the sum stemming from waste water
pollution and oil industry waste, saying that fraud marked the
trial and that Texaco Petroleum Co. mitigated the
environmental damage long before 2001, when it became a
Chevron subsidiary.

Ecuador's highest court has upheld the ruling, while the
plaintiffs have accused Chevron of dirty tricks designed to
subvert the lower-court ruling.

The plaintiffs say Texaco, and now Chevron, remain responsible
for environmental contamination and illnesses resulting from
the operations of an oil consortium from 1972 to 1990 in
Ecuador's rainforest.

"We're really pleased with the start of the embargo on
Chevron's assets in a country outside of Ecuador," said Pablo
Fajardo, a lawyer for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs in the case
told the Associated Press.

"The fact that an Argentine judge has decided to accept the
embargo order shows that the ruling by the Ecuadorean court
can be enforced and today Chevron is forced to pay up to the
last cent its debt owed to the Amazon."

The plaintiffs will begin a suit in Colombia in the coming
days and are also preparing legal actions in Asia, Europe and
elsewhere, Fajardo said.

"Environmental crime will not go without punishment and we're
going to chase them anywhere in the world," he said.

Chevron argues that a 1998 agreement Texaco signed with
Ecuador after a $40 million cleanup absolves it of liability
and that Ecuador's state-run oil company is responsible for
much of the pollution in the oil patch Texaco quit more than
two decades ago.

Chevron is a major player in Argentina producing about 26,000
barrels of crude and 4 million cubic feet of natural gas
daily, the plaintiffs have said.

The company is also key for the South American country's
future energy needs, especially after it agreed to work with
the state-run YPF energy company to develop shale reserves
that could be the third-largest in the world.

===

Associated Press writers Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador, and
Luis Andres Henao in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this
report.

==========

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