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CHEVRON EXECS FACE JAILTIME, LICENSE SUSPENSION

03/26/2012

Chevron's oil license is at risk in Brazil after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against executives for an oil leak near Rio de Janeiro last year. Federal Prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira charged 17 Chevron and Transocean executives with environmental crimes and called for prison sentences of up to 31 years, adding to an earlier civil lawsuit seeking over $11 billion in damages. Oliveira has said that Chevron's drilling damaged the subsea reservoir, creating a "contamination time bomb" and raising the possibility of catastrophic future leaks. This is the largest environmental lawsuit in Brazil's history, and may be in the courts for years to come. According to Oliveira, targets of cases in Brazil have used the generous appeals process and routine delays of the legal system to escape penalties. In addition, critics have accused Oliveira of overreach, and a Chevron spokesman said that "there have been no coastal or wildlife impacts." However, Oliveira said that he hopes the case will set a precedent and that "if companies don't listen to millions, we have to ask for billions." Brazil's oil regulator is considering revoking Chevron's exploration contract after claiming the company could have avoided the 3,000 barrel spill. Transocean was spared the risk of license suspension as there were "no problems" with the rig, but Transocean's head of operations in Brazil was forbidden from leaving the country while the prosecutor's probe is conducted. For the full story, see http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/22/us-chevron-brazil-prosecutor-idUSBRE82K1MV20120322, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-23/chevron-s-brazil-license-risks-being-revoked-on-oil-spill.html, and http://www.chron.com/business/article/Charges-filed-against-Chevron-execs-in-Brazil-3422793.php.