Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Did Chevron Pay Its "Dirty Tricks Guy" $2.2 Million?

Reposted from The Understory

Expose Diego Borja, Chevron Human Rights HitmanDiego Borja is Chevron’s “dirty tricks guy” — that’s not an allegation, that’s how he once described himself.

Recent court documents reveal that Chevron has paid Borja $2.2 million for his work. You have to wonder: What exactly is Chevron paying Borja to do?

Ostensibly, that $2.2 million is for retainer fees, living expenses, income taxes and legal fees. But given that those same court documents also reveal that Borja was one of several Chevron workers employed to help hide contaminated soil samples taken from the company’s well sites in the Ecuadorean Amazon, there’s plenty of room to suspect the official explanation Chevron has offered for the large sums of cash it’s paying Borja does not tell the whole story.

After all, Borja was once caught on tape saying that he had threatened to testify against Chevron if the company didn’t compensate him for his botched attempt to bribe an Ecuadorean judge. That particular dirty trick earned Borja a spot on our list of Chevron’s Human Rights Hitmen — and an all-expenses-paid trip out of Ecuador, once the Ecuadorean government started looking into Borja-the-Chevron-contractor’s attempts to corrupt the Ecuadorean judiciary.

The Chevron Pit has the scoop on the hush money Chevron is paying Borja, plus this background for those who are new to the strange and sordid saga of Chevron’s dirty tricks guy:

In 2009 Borja, along with his mysterious partner Wayne Hansen, secretly videotaped a judge in a failed effort to derail the trial that charged Chevron with deliberately contaminating the rainforest and resulted in an $18 billion judgment against the company.

Chevron whisked Borja and his family out of Ecuador and into the U.S. after Borja turned over the tapes to Chevron. Later, though, Borja threatened to turn evidence against Chevron if he was not paid handsomely for them.

Since that revelation, the Borjas have been practically under house arrest in Houston, but the money ain't shabby so maybe they don't mind. See court documents here.

Chevron has picked up their rent, the car payments and the costs for a washer, dryer, and all their furniture. Both Borjas get retainer checks every month. The wife has a job with Chevron but nobody seems to know what she does exactly. Borja is unemployed.

Why is this a problem? Borja is likely to be a witness in pending litigation and hearings about the $18 billion judgment. Will Borja bite the hand that feeds him? We doubt it, and that's exactly the Chevron plan.

We hope the news media won't let Chevron get away with it. Hats are off to the reporters who have taken the time to peruse these documents.

See articles by Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones, Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News, Rebecca Beyer of the Daily Journal and Braden Reddall and Dan Levine of Reuters.

– Mike G.

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