QUITO, May 20 (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Tuesday accused U.S oil company Chevron of deceiving the country’s justice system in a decades-long trial over pollution in the Amazon by seeking to avoid inspections of areas contaminated by oil production.
Correa said experts hired by Chevron Corp found evidence of contamination in areas once operated by Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 2001, but that evidence was never given to the court.
“They did prior inspections of the different wells so that the court would go to places where there was no pollution, trying to deceive the justice system,” Correa told reporters.
Ecuador was given access to those documents through a court order.
Chevron dismissed Correa’s accusations as “baseless.”
“This is yet another attempt by the Republic to distract attention and evade its responsibility for conditions in the Amazon,” a Chevron spokesman said in an email.
An Ecuadorean court has ordered Chevron to pay some $9 billion in damages resulting from a class action lawsuit by residents of eastern Ecuador, who say oil production between 1964 and 1992 left toxic environmental damage.
Chevron denies wrongdoing, calls the court ruling a product of fraud, and has refused to make any payment.
Chevron sued Ecuador in the International Court of Justice in The Hague for alleged violation of the Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty and for delays and lack of transparency in the suit. (Reporting By Alexandra Valencia, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Richard Pullin)