Argentine court orders seizure of Chevron's assets to enforce $19-bn Ecuadoran ruling

An Argentine court has ordered to seize US oil giant Chevron Corp's assets in the country in order to carry out an Ecuadorean court ruling that awarded $19 billion to plaintiffs in an environmental damage lawsuit in the Amazon, a lawyer representing Ecuadoran plaintiffs yesterday said.

Argentine lawyer Enrique Bruchou told reporters in a conference call that Judge Adrian Elcuj Miranda ordered the seizure of Chevron's assets in Argentina so that the plaintiffs could collect the proceeds of a court order in a court in Ecuador last year.

Residents of the Amazon rain forest in the Lago Agrio region in Ecuador had filed a lawsuit in May against Chevron in Canada, Argentina and Brazil seeking to seize the company's assets in these countries in order to enforce an $18-billion ruling they won in a lawsuit in Ecuador for polluting the Amazon basin.

Since Chevron does not have any assets in Ecuador, the lawyers for the plaintiffs had asked the courts in these countries to seize the San Ramon, California-based oil giant's shares and assets in their respective countries in order to enforce the Ecuador judgment.

Argentinian court's judge Miranda ordered that all cash flows from sales and bank deposits be frozen until the entire $19 billion order by the Ecuador court is collected.

The rare order includes the entire shares and dividends of Chevron in Argentina, its entire minority stake in the oil pipeline transportation company Oleoductos del Valle, and 40 per cent of any current or future money that Chevron Argentina holds as well as 40 per cent of all its hydrocarbon sales.