Gold Reserve cases vs Venezuela tick on

Get all the background from Reuters’ story today.

For some reason they didn’t include the current legal situation. Court had declared that Venezuela lost the case on default a few weeks ago, on the basis that Gold Reserve said service of process was successful in January and Venezuela never responded. This led to all sorts of gnashing of teeth, especially by a Twitterer named Federico Alves, who has 50,000 followers who like to retweet him. He was going on and on about how this was the worst thing that had ever happened to his country. I told him to chill, that this isn’t a debt default and the case would go on. I am no expert in these things, but the experts I talk to say it will be a while yet before any assets get attached, at least from the US case.

Yesterday, the court agreed with me:

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So now you know, watch that court in early June. Anyone want to make odds on how long the case drags on? I am starting to think Luxembourg and France are going to go faster.

The most remarkable thing about this whole arbitration situation in Venezuela is that there are now more than $3 billion in well adjudicated claims against Venezuela (Gold Reserve’s $750-odd million, Owens Illinois at around $450 million, ExxonMobil at about $2 billion, plus a bunch of smaller ones), all of them already smaller than the original claims, and it is taking a long time to seize assets. For all the worries by people like me about the possible problems of an international system in which companies can sue countries, it looks like states still have the upper hand. (As Noel Maurer likes to point out.)

2 thoughts on “Gold Reserve cases vs Venezuela tick on

  1. alexguerreroe

    Steven, there is something even worst,, the pari-passu clause attached to Venezuelan bonds, which consider that a default to any “CIADI” debt it should be considered as a default to bonds. That is the reason why Venezuelan lawyers and attorneys go on and on gainig some time, appealing to the CIADI decision on wherever Gold Reserve request the execution of its claim. ,

  2. Steven/Setty Post author

    Yes, that’s true. To be precise, any “final and unappealable” judgment of US$100 million or more against the Republic must be paid in 30 days or all the sovereign bonds go into technical default. However, this isn’t the end of the road, either. As I described in my recent (paywalled) article for REDD, even that default can be waived by bondholders if they want. So there will still likely be months of talks at that point. There are likely still years before any payment. In the meantime the ConocoPhillips arbitral award could come any time, and will most likely be in the billions of dollars.

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