Lago Agrio: The Mystery Of Amazonia
Posted on September 20, 2018
Amazonia Recovery Ltd. was a Gibraltar company set up to hold the proceeds of the Lago Agrio judgment, or maybe the judgment itself. As I’ve reported previously, Chevron obtained a default judgment against the firm in Gibraltar, and in the New York RICO case, the final judgment required Steven Donziger, the LAPs’ American lawyer, to execute a stock power assigning to Chevron his interest in Amazonia.
This injunction has led to a strange satellite litigation. Chevron claimed that Donziger, when executing the stock power, had attached an “addendum” that asserted that the transfer of the shares was impermissible. The addendum asserted that the Amazonia entity was “null and void,” and perhaps that it did not even exist anymore.
Judge Kaplan therefore made a very specific order, requiring Donziger to provide the stock power without any addendum, signed and acknowledged before a notary. There was some more skirmishing—I have read the papers so you don’t have to. But at the end of the day, Chevron is claiming that Donziger has only sent an addendum-less signed stock power, not an addendum-less signed stock power with a notarial acknowledgment. It has moved to hold Donziger in contempt and to impose monetary sanctions and even imprisonment in order to compel Donziger to do what the court has ordered him to do. Donziger has seemed resigned to this at times, defiant at other times. In an email dated September 10, he told Chevron he would sign the document, but on September 13, he wrote:
Can u please indicate your view of the legal basis for your request that I re-execute the Amazonia transfer form and have it notarized, when I already did this several weeks ago.
And in a recent press release, his supporters wrote:
Donziger said he would not comply with any gag order to the extent it runs afoul of his legally-protected Free Speech rights under U.S. and international law. … Chevron is seeking the gag order to prevent Donziger from making a written submission challenging its effort to force him to abandon his interest or legal fee in the pollution judgment as part of a highly flawed U.S. “racketeering” decision from 2014. That decision, issued by U.S. federal judge Lewis A. Kaplan, was based largely on false testimony from an admittedly corrupt Ecuadorian witness paid at least $2 million by Chevron.
This is all very mysterious.
The reason I find it mysterious is this: if, as Donziger has said, Amazonia is a defunct entity that may not even exist anymore, what purpose could be served by trying to avoid doing what the court has ordered? Even if Donziger were right to say that sending the signed and acknowledged document with the addendum was sufficient, why not send it again, without the addendum (unless, of course, you think the addendum has some practical significance)? If, on the other hand, there is something to be gained by trying to avoid the order, doesn’t that mean that Amazonia isn’t quite as defunct as Donziger has said?
I’ll update you on this once Donziger responds.