by Alexandra Ulmer, Reuters
CARACAS, February 9, 2015 (TSR) – Gold Reserve Inc is in talks with Venezuela about an arbitration award that granted the company more than $740 million and is open to a settlement, its president said on Wednesday.
The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal last year determined Venezuela must pay the Toronto-listed gold mining company $740.3 million for terminating its Las Brisas gold concession in 2009.
The award, which bears interest of LIBOR plus 2 percent, now stands at nearly $747 million, U.S.-based Gold Reserve President Doug Belanger said in an email.
“This is what the company is looking to collect, but is always serious about considering an amicable solution,” Belanger said, adding Venezuela had in the past indicated it was eager to settle.
He declined to comment on the details of current discussions but said that in the past, “no agreement has been reached yet as to how and when payment would be made.”
Venezuela applied to annul the award and sought to stay its execution.
But last week a Paris court hearing arguments in the case, because the World Bank’s arbitration was “seated,” or based there, dismissed the stay request and recognized the ICSID award as a judgment of the court.
“Until such time as an agreement is reached and payment made, Gold Reserve will continue to seek enforcement of its rights in any jurisdiction where it believes it can attach assets in execution of the award,” Belanger added.
Venezuela faces more than 20 international claims in disputes largely stemming from the 1999-2013 rule of Hugo Chavez, who nationalized large swathes of the economy.
The arbitration claims are adding to the pressures facing the financially squeezed OPEC country in the midst of a deep recession and tumbling oil prices.
An ICSID tribunal last year awarded Exxon Mobil Corp $1.6 billion for oil assets nationalized in 2007.
In the second half of 2015, the Washington-based arbitration center is expected to render an award in the case of U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips that analysts expect to be even bigger than Exxon’s.
The Oil Ministry did not respond to requests for comments. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)