Chevron's 'Dirty Tricks Guy' in Ecuador, Diego Borja: "Crime Does Pay"
There are shocking new revelations about Chevron's attempts to corrupt the trial in Ecuador over the company's massive contamination of the Amazon rainforest.
In recorded conversations released today, longtime Chevron contractor Diego Borja threatened to reveal damaging evidence "cooked" by Chevron in the environmental trial in Ecuador unless he received enough money for turning over secret videotapes to high-ranking Chevron executives. The revelations are contained in a report authored by San Francisco Bay Area-based attorney and Private Investigator Grant Fine.
On the audiotapes, Borja said he has enough evidence to ensure a victory by the Amazon communities if Chevron failed to pay him what he was promised. Before turning over the videotapes to Chevron, Borja said he made sure Chevron "completely understood" he wanted payment for them.
At one point, Borja laughs and says, "Crime does pay."
A whistle-blower named Santiago Escobar brought the tapes to plaintiffs' representatives in Quito. Escobar, a childhood friend of Borja, first heard Borja speaking about an "operation he was doing for Chevron" at a 'discoteca' in Quito in June 2009. Disgusted by what he heard, Escobar later taped conversations and kept records of online chats he had with Borja.
Santiago Escobar said:
"Diego always bragged to us about what he was doing with the testing samples to help Chevron avoid prosecution. Everyone knew he was Chevron's dirty tricks guy. Over time, I became more disgusted with what Diego was doing. The videotapes and his interest in switching sides was the last straw for me."
Borja says Chevron hired him to create four companies so his work for the oil company would appear “independent.” He suggests that the companies were connected to a laboratory to test contamination samples. Borja says the laboratory was not independent, but rather “belonged” to Chevron.
The investigative report also revealed that Borja’s wife, Sara Portilla, worked for Chevron for four years and represented Severn Trent Labs (STL), a U.S. laboratory that Chevron described as an “independent” lab where it had its contamination samples tested. Court documents obtained by Grant Fine cite Borja and Portilla as representatives of STL. They both signed 'chain of custody' documents with the Lago Agrio court that showed how the samples moved from the contamination site to the testing lab.
Chevron has kept its longtime contractor, Diego Borja, and his family hidden away at this $6,000-a-month house located just a few minutes from Chevron's corporate headquarters in San Ramon, California.
According to Escobar, Borja told him he was taking instructions from his bosses at Chevron's Miami-based offices. The oil company has been hiding Borja in a $6000/month house with a swimming pool in a gated community near its headquarters, and is paying a high-profile San Francisco criminal defense attorney to represent him. While there's no way yet to prove it, Escobar even says that Borja told him that Chevron is paying him $100,000 a month!
In August 2009, Chevron launched another round of fireworks in its campaign to evade responsibility in Ecuador – this time in the form of secretly-taped videos they claimed exposed corruption implicating the judge presiding over the trial. But since that time, the supposed scandal has unraveled with revelations about the secret video-taping of the judge, and the relationship between Chevron and the two men who made the videos – one a convicted felon, and the other a long-time Chevron contractor directly involved with the company's legal defense.
The investigation into American Wayne Hansen – who posed as the owner of a remediation company willing to pay bribes for clean-up contracts – revealed that he has never worked in remediation, and is a convicted felon and drug trafficker with no visible means of financial support. Chevron paid for an attorney for Hansen but Hansen has since fired the attorney, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
Han Shan is the coordinator of Amazon Watch's Clean Up Ecuador Campaign