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Bribery accusations in case against Chevron

In case over Amazon cleanup, Chevron releases videotapes it says implicate the judge in a bribery scheme.

The men used tiny cameras hidden in a watch and a pen to record four meetings between May and June 2009. Chevron says the recordings were made without its knowledge. The company provided no explanation for why the men would secretly tape the meetings.

Since receiving the videotapes in June, Chevron has provided financial assistance to Borja and his family to relocate “because of concerns for Borja’s safety.” Neither Borja nor Hansen have been made available to journalists.

On one of the tapes, Borja and Hansen repeatedly press Judge Nunez on whether he plans to rule against Chevron. Each time, Nunez refuses to answer. Finally, near the end of the conversation, Hansen asks again if Chevron will be declared guilty.

Nunez says: “Yes sir.”

Chevron sees this response as evidence of the judge’s bias. Donziger, the U.S. lawyer, says Nunez may have simply been acknowledging the question. Elsewhere on the tapes, Borja and Hansen speak with Patricio Garcia, who identifies himself as an official with Alianza PAIS, the country’s ruling party. Garcia indicates to the businessmen that to secure cleanup contracts, $1 million must be paid to the presidency, $1 million to Alianza PAIS, and $1 million to Judge Nunez.

Chevron is now seeking the disqualification of Judge Nunez and an annulment of his prior rulings.

“No judge who has participated in meetings of the type shown on these tapes could possibly deliver a legitimate decision,” said Campbell, Chevron’s executive vice president.

The Ecuadorian government said Judge Nunez will be investigated.

Still, the videotapes do little to burnish Chevron’s image in Ecuador.

While Judge Nunez is not present in any of the videotaped conversations in which payoffs are mentioned, Borja — the former Chevron contractor — is involved in the discussions.

Pablo Fajardo, an Ecuadorian lawyer for the plaintiffs, claimed that Borja was part of a plot engineered by Chevron to undermine the legal process so the company can avoid paying a colossal judgement.

“The bottom line is that evidence in the trial shows that Chevron is responsible for wrecking Ecuador’s rainforest,” said Donziger, the American lawyer. “Nothing Chevron has presented in these videos changes these underlying facts one bit.”