Videos posted online by US oil company Chevron purporting to show rampant corruption among Ecuadoran officials, are actually a set-up meant to taint an ongoing trial against the energy giant, an attorney in the case alleged Thursday.
"By releasing the videos, in my opinion Chevron is trying to taint a trial process that they knew they were going to lose, with the hope that the case would be dismissed in Ecuador," Steven Donziger, an attorney for Ecuadoran Amazon communities who are suing the oil giant told reporters.
Chevron at the end of August released several grainy videos purporting to show "a three-million dollar bribery scheme implicating the judge presiding over the environmental lawsuit" against the US oil major.
The Ecuadorans allege that Chevron dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon.
But a report released Thursday by the Amazon Defense Coalition found that the individuals said to have produced the video were convicted felons with "a habit of breaking the law" and with longstanding ties to the oil company.
"This report raises serious questions about Chevron's credibility," Donziger said.
He raised the possibility that the videos were an effort by Chevron to "try to create a game-changer to disrupt or derail the trial and get this judge off the case, because it was clear this case was heading towards a conclusion."
The presiding judge on the case recused himself days after the videos were released.
Ecuador Attorney General Washington Pesantez said last month he was seeking action through the US Justice Department against Chevron over the videos.
Chevron is being sued for damage allegedly caused to to the Amazon rainforest between 1964 and 1990 by Texaco, a company it bought in 2001.
Experts estimated in 2008 that Chevron could be liable for damages of up to 27 billion dollars.