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12 Apr 2013

Jonathan Stempel, Thomson Reuters

Chevron says Ecuador environmental claims now in question

A consulting firm whose work helped lead to a $19 billion award against Chevron Corp for rainforest pollution in Ecuador has disavowed environmental claims used by local residents to obtain the 2011 court judgment, court documents show. Chevron on Friday released affidavits from two officials at Stratus Consulting Inc saying they believed damages assessments used against the oil company were "tainted." Those assessments relied in part on the consulting firm's work. The affidavits were released in connection with Chevron's settlement on Thursday of fraud and racketeering claims against the firm and the two officials…The settlement with Stratus prevents the Boulder, Colorado-based firm from making public statements about the Ecuador case, and imposes a 20-year ban on Beltman and Maest from involvement in cases adverse to Chevron's interests…[A] lawyer for the Lago Agrio representatives, accused Chevron of "using financial bullying" on a "heretofore reputable" environmental consulting firm to win the settlement...