Quito - A court in Ecuador on Monday ordered oil giant Chevron to pay $8bn for allegedly causing environmental damage in the country between 1964 and 1990, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Chevron faces claims it was responsible for damage in the Amazon rainforest caused by oil extraction by Texaco, a company it bought in 2001.
"The Ecuadorian court's judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable," Chevron said in a statement. "It is the product of fraud and is contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence."
Pablo Fajardo, lead attorney for the Ecuadoran Amazon communities that sued Chevron, said that the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios made the ruling.
Chevron pledged to appeal the ruling, arguing that earlier rulings by US and international courts will bar enforcement of Monday's decision.
"Chevron does not believe that today's judgment is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law," it said in the statement. "Chevron intends to see that the perpetrators of this fraud are held accountable for their misconduct."
The lawsuit on behalf of Ecuadoran Amazon communities, was originally filed in New York in 1993. It sought $27bn in damages for water and soil pollution. The Ecuadorans allege that Texaco dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon.
Chevron has long claimed that the process was tainted. In 2009, it posted videos online purporting to show a bribery scheme implicating the judge presiding over the environmental lawsuit.
The presiding judge on the case recused himself days after the videos were released.