Tag Archives: ICSID

Case of the Day: Crystallex International v. Petróleos de Venezuela

The CITGO Sign in Kenmore Square
A Boston landmark. Credit: Lunarsurface

The case of the day is Crystallex International Corp. v. Petróleos de Venezuela (D. Del. 2016). Crystallex was a Canadian corporation that had brought an ICSID arbitration against Venezuela, relating primarily to Venezuela’s denial of a permit to allow Crystallex to mine gold deposits in the Las Cristinas area and to the decision of a state-owned economic development company, Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, to rescind a mining contract with Crystallex. The arbitration resulted in an award of more than $1.2 billion in damages to Crystallex.

In today’s case, Crystallex alleged that Venezuela, in anticipation of the award, had “orchestrated a scheme to monetize its American assets and pull the proceeds out of the United States, in order to evade potential arbitration creditors.” In particular, it alleged that Venezuela and its state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, cause CITGO, a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, to issue $2.8 in debt and then to pay the proceeds of the issuance to Petróleos de Venezuela in the form of a dividend. The main claim was for fraudulent transfer under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. CITGO moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Note that I’m simplifying things a bit—there actually were two levels of subsidiaries, with the indirect subsidiary paying a dividend to the direct subsidiary and the direct subsidiary then paying a dividend to Petróleos de Venezuela. I’m using the name CITGO to refer to both, even though ultimately CITGO was dismissed from the case and the other subsidiary, PDV Holding, Inc., was not. This is mainly so I can use the picture of the CITGO sign, a Boston landmark).
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Case of the Day: Micula v. Government of Romania

The case of the day is Micula v. Government of Romania (D.D.C. 2015). Viorel Micula alleged that he had made investments in Romania in reliance on certain incentives offered by the Romanian government. He claimed that Romania later revoked the incentives, causing him to suffer a loss, and that Romania had acted in violation of its bilateral investment treaty with Sweden. Micula demanded an ICSID arbitration, which resulted in an award in his favor (and in favor of several other investors) of more than $116 million.

Romania asked ICSID to annul the award, and at Romania’s request, ICSID’s secretary-general granted an initial stay of enforcement of the award. Shortly thereafter, Micula brought a petition in Washington under 22 U.S.C. § 1605a seeking ex parte confirmation of the award. (Ex parte confirmation is a well-established procedure in the SDNY; I discussed the issue in a post on Mobil Cerro Negro v. Venezuela). ICSID later constituted an ad hoc committee to consider whether the award should be stayed pending a decision on annulment. The committee agreed to a further stay, but only if Romania gave a written assurance that it would pay the award in full if annulment were denied. Romania failed to give the written assurance, and the committee revoked the initial stay.
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Case of the Day: Mobil Cerro Negro v. Venezuela

The case of the day is Mobil Cerro Negro, Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (S.D.N.Y. 2015). In 2007, Venezuela expropriated Mobil’s interest in various oil projects in the country. Mobil commenced an ICSID arbitration under a bilateral investment treaty. In 2014, the tribunal awarded Mobil approximately $1.6 billion, which remains unpaid. A day after issuance of the award, Mobil, by way of an ex parte and summary proceeding, obtained recognition of the award in New York. Venezuela moved to vacate the judgment. It later asked the tribunal to modify the award on the grounds that the award gave Mobil a double recovery in light of a recovery Mobil had obtained from the Venezuelan state-owned oil company. ICSID’s Secretary-General stayed the award pending the outcome of the motion to modify it.
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