Ecuador high court upholds verdict against Chevron, halves fine

QUITO Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:05pm GMT

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QUITO Nov 13 (Reuters) - Ecuador's highest court upheld a verdict condemning U.S. oil company Chevron of pollution in an Amazon rainforest region, but halved the fine imposed in a previous judgment to $9.5 billion.

Chevron took the case to the National Court of Justice after a lower provincial court in the Amazon region, where Texaco operated between 1964 and 1992, deemed Chevron was responsible for the pollution that plaintiffs say has harmed the health of communities living in the area.

The judge in that ruling imposed a $19 billion fine on the company.

Chevron bought Texaco's operations in the region in 2001, inheriting legal responsibility for the pollution, Ecuador says.

Chevron spokesman James Craig said the decision against the company, ratified by the National Court of Justice late on Tuesday, was "illegitimate and inapplicable".

"The only decision that the Court of Justice could have taken .. was to declare the trial null and void and leave this illegitimate sentence without effect," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Chevron is fighting across various international tribunals to nullify the multi-billion decision. It is pursuing a case against the U.S. lawyer representing Ecuador who it says resorted to fraud to obtain a judgment against it. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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