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21 Aug 2018

Simon Taylor, Co-founder and Director, Global Witness

Who Really Pulls the Strings - Where Does the Buck Stop?

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...[F]or the vast majority, the decision-making and hence responsibility for inadequacies, or very often complicity in the subsequent mess, lies with the highest levels of management in the parent company.  In these cases, the subsidiary has usually played the role of a vassal, bereft of nearly all decision-making, at the beck and call of the parent.  This role is to enable the parent corporation to reap all the benefits, whilst the subsidiary plays “patsy” when/if it all goes wrong, as the parent pleads ignorance or lack of any role.  Accountability is thus usually a far distant proposition:  a quickie settlement out of court, a “cost-of-doing-business” penalty...But the real victims in these cases...will not accept this any longer – here is a good example:

In Ecuador, Texaco’s appalling waste management systems left hundreds of poorly maintained waste pits...leading to...devastation for the indigenous and poor farming communities in the region.  They sued, but instead of seeking to clean up this environmental disaster, Chevron (which assumed the responsibility for Texaco’s liabilities when it took over the company), promised a lifetime of litigation...Chevron has lost...has lost the legal fight in Ecuador (the jurisdiction it fought to be heard in, but which it now denigrates), where multiple courts have re-affirmed the judgement against Chevron and the multi-billion-dollar compensation penalty it must now pay...[I]ts legal strategy seems to be a vindictive effort, by all means, to attack its opponents rather than be held accountable for its liabilities...