Argentine Court Freezes Chevron Assets

From Fox News Latino

An Argentine judge has embargoed the assets of U.S. oil supermajor Chevron Corp. in the South American country, a victory for plaintiffs trying to collect on a $19 billion judgment against the company in Ecuador for environmental damage.

Judge Adrian Elcuj Miranda on Wednesday upheld a petition by an Ecuadorian court that was filed under the terms of a regional treaty, the attorney for the plaintiffs in Argentina, Enrique Bruchou, said in a press conference.

The goal of the 47 named Ecuadorian plaintiffs is to collect on a $19 billion sum that Chevron has been ordered to pay for irreversible environmental damage between 1964 and the early 1990s by Texaco.

The plaintiffs represent some 30,000 rainforest villagers and Indians who say Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001, spoiled their lands and damaged their health by dumping billions of gallons of toxic drilling waste in a 480,000-hectare (1,850-sq.-mile) area of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

They are seeking to enforce those rulings in countries such as Argentina, Canada and Brazil because Chevron has few assets in Ecuador.

The embargo covers 100 percent of Chevron Argentina’s stock – valued at roughly $2 billion – and all of its dividends -, its 14 percent stake in the company Oleoductos del Valle, 40 percent of the company’s oil sales to refineries and 40 percent of the funds it has deposited in Argentine banks, he said.

Chevron is the fourth-largest oil producer in Argentina with output of 35,000 barrels per day in 2011, according to the company’s Web site.

James Craig, Chevron’s spokesman for Latin America, told Efe that all of the oil company’s operations in Argentina are conducted by subsidiaries and that the plaintiffs have no right to attach subsidiary assets.

The case in Ecuador is currently before the National Court of Justice in Quito, but the sentence is already enforceable because Chevron has refused to post a bond with the high court to prevent enforcement of an appellate court’s judgment.

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