Ecuador’s never good at listening, preferring to march against the World, and to the beat of its own, corrupt, legal drum. That habit caught up to the country in the Chevron Ecuador lawsuit, where an international arbitration tribunal at The Hague issued an award Thursday that went against the country.
Basically, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which administers the arbitration tribunal under the authority of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (called “the BIT”), has said that Ecuador continues to pursue money collections, specifically the $19 billion damage award, and from a process and with American lawyers that the tribunal has by word called “corrupt.”
The first time The Hague got a look at the Chevron Ecuador case in 2010, it issued a ruling that Ecuador was, to put it in plain English, expected to explain under what rights it had to collect damage money from Chevron – given that the lawsuit’s evidence and procedures were long-ago considered fraudulent by the international court.
Ecuador did not effectively do this.
Instead, Ecuador continued to pursue the damage of Chevron’s business around the World, since the American oil giant had no assets in the country. It tried to do this in Canada, and failed, and then tried to do it in Argentina, and looked like it was going to have some success. Argentina’s equally corrupt court ruled to uphold Ecuador’s damage award, but the decision resulted in Chevron’s cancellation of oil production spending plans for that country, costing thousands of jobs and dollars and at the wrong time. A time when, not only the Argentina economy is described as “flat to weak” but it’s in a New York Court fighting against a lawsuit that stems from over a billion in unpaid debt that extends back to the 2001 Argentina Debt Crisis. If Argentina loses the case, it could wreck its economy.
The Hague has looked at Argentina’s backing of a corrupt lawsuit, and factored that into its decision. The result is that Ecuador must come before The Hague and explain and justify actions the court has slammed as leading to an unenforceable judgement.
The bet here is that Ecuador will continue to behave improperly. Watch the Argentina Debt Case in New York; if it folds against the country, Argentina will reverse its Chevron action.