Chevron Corp will try to convince a U.S. judge this week that a group of Ecuadorean villagers and their U.S. lawyer used bribery to win an $18 billion judgment against Chevron from a court in Ecuador, in the latest chapter in a long-running fight over pollution in the Amazon jungle.
In a trial starting Tuesday, the oil company is asking a federal court in New York to prevent the villagers and their Harvard-educated lawyer, Steven Donziger, from using U.S. courts to enforce the Ecuadorean judgment.
A victory in the United States would likely help Chevron's defense in other countries where Donziger and the villagers may seek to enforce the judgment.
"We believe that any jurisdiction that observes the rule of law will find that the judgment is illegal and unenforceable because it's a product of fraud," said Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesman for Chevron.
Donziger and the villagers say they did nothing wrong in obtaining the judgment, and they accuse the judge in the U.S. case, District Judge Lewis Kaplan, of bias against them.
"These claims by Chevron are utterly baseless," said Chris Gowen, a spokesman for Donziger and the Ecuadoreans.