TORONTO — A 19-year court battle that resulted in a staggering US$18.3-billion judgment from an Ecuadoran court against Chevron last year moved to Canada on Thursday as the plaintiffs seek to collect.


Ecuadoran villagers who brought the original lawsuit over decades of oil pollution in the Amazon are asking an Ontario Superior Court to force Chevron to hand over CAN$12 billion in Canadian assets held by subsidiaries.

The oil company, which has refused to pay, alleging fraud and bribery was used to obtain the ruling, says its Canadian subsidiaries are wholly independent and have nothing to do with this case.

After two days of hearings this week, the judge is expected to decide in January whether to recognize the Ecuadoran ruling.

Chevron got tangled up in the legal quagmire when in 2000 it purchased Texaco, which operated in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador starting in the 1970s, leaving what the plaintiffs claim is an environmental mess in the Amazon jungle.

Chevron contends that Texaco paid all of the required clean-up costs before exiting the country in the 1990s.

The plaintiffs have also attempted to collect on the massive judgment in Brazil and Argentina, where Chevron has operations.