Public prosecutors from Campos dos Goytacazes have 10 days to justify their jurisdiction to pursue a criminal case against Chevron Corp. (CVX) for environmental crimes related to a November oil spill off the coast of Brazil.
Judge Claudio Barreto disclosed the deadline in a statement posted today on the website of the Rio de Janiero’s federal court system. The charge submitted against Chevron on March 21 doesn’t explain why it is being pursued in the Campos federal court, Barreto said in the statement.
Federal Prosecutor Eduardo Santos from Campos charged executives at Chevron and rig operator Transocean Ltd. (RIG) with environmental crimes and is seeking prison sentences of as many as 31 years after a November oil spill of about 3,000 barrels. The leak occurred at a time Brazil is increasing scrutiny of deep-water drilling following the 2010 Macondo spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Both Chevron and Transocean have said the charges are “without merit.”
George Buck, head of Chevron in Brazil, and Michael Legrand, Transocean’s head of operations in the country, are among 17 executives who were banned from leaving Brazil this week while the prosecutor’s probe is conducted.
Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, was producing about 60,000 barrels a day at Frade before shutting the field last week after it discovered a new oil leak on the seabed.
Chevron’s press office didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on today’s filing.
Chevron gained 1 percent to $106.36 at 4:15 p.m. in New York.
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