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May 29, 2012
Investors Write to Chevron Again
    by Robert Kropp

Led by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, a coalition of 40 institutional investors with $580 billion in assets under management calls on Chevron to end its legal wrangling over an $18 billion judgment against it for environmental damage in Ecuador.


Last year, a coalition of shareowners representing $158 billion in assets under management wrote to Chevron, requesting that the company "pursue an 'equitable negotiated settlement' to end its nearly 20-year legal battle with indigenous populations in the Amazon rainforest."

Chevron never replied to the letter from the investors.

Since then, Chevron has encountered numerous legal setbacks, including the upholding by an appeals court in Ecuador of a judgment against the company and the vacating in New York of a preliminary injunction purporting to bar worldwide enforcement of the judgment.

SocialFunds.com reported last week that three sustainable investment organizations—the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Zevin Asset Management, and Newground Social Investment—have submitted a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), requesting that it launch an investigation into "evidence that the company is violating securities laws by repeatedly making misrepresentations and material omissions regarding its adverse judgment in Ecuador of $18.1 billion for despoiling the environment."

And another coalition of investors—led by the $150.3 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund and including 40 institutional investors with total assets under management of $580 billion, has written to Chevron again, requesting that the company disclose to shareowners "the risks to its business and its operations from any enforcement of the $18 billion judgment."

The shareowners also requested that the company "reconcile its legal testimony citing 'irreparable damage' to its business with the company’s past public statements to shareholders," and "reevaluate whether endless litigation is the best strategy."

"The time for delay is over," said Thomas DiNapoli, the trustee for the New York fund. "The company's attempt to undo the court's verdict only keeps the case in the public eye and further damages Chevron's reputation. Chevron's actions are hurting shareholders as well as the indigenous people of the rainforest."

DiNapoli also noted that three shareowner resolutions—calling for the appointment of an independent board chair, the appointment of a director nominee with environmental expertise, and the adoption of country selection guidelines—have been filed with Chevron this year. Shareowners will vote on the resolutions at the company's annual general meeting, scheduled for May 30th.

 

 
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