Crystallex moves forward in legal dispute with Venezuela

A court in the U.S. District of Columbia is allowing Canadian Crystallex the possibility of advancing in a legal dispute against Venezuela, following the expropriation of its assets in Las Cristinas gold mine in 2008.

The decision, which was made public last week, allows Crystallex to enforce in other U.S. jurisdictions a previous ruling issued in March by the same court. Such ruling upholds an award by a World Bank tribunal that orders Venezuela to pay the miner $1.2 billion in compensation plus $200 million in interest for what the Hugo Chávez government did at Las Cristinas.

Both the March and the June decisions are crucial steps in the company’s quest to seize Venezuelan assets in the United States. In fact, the Toronto-based firm could now seek an attachment of assets such as Citgo, a refining and marketing subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela PDVSA.

MINING.com approached Crystallex by email on June 13, 2017, and asked details about future legal actions regarding this case, but company representatives did not reply by publication time.

Reuters, on the other hand, requested a comment from Venezuela's information ministry and did not get a response either.

Earlier this year, Crystallex also asked a U.S. District Court in Delaware for an injunction against PDVSA, arguing that it carried out $2.8 billion in operations involving Citgo and pledged Citgo shares to Russian oil firm Rosneft as a guarantee for a loan.

The miner calls these actions "an illegal transfer of assets" out of a U.S. subsidiary to avoid paying the compensation ordered by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Las Cristinas was Crystallex's flagship project and it is considered one of the world’s largest undeveloped gold deposits with measured and indicated resources of 21 million ounces of gold containing 17 million ounces of proven and probable reserves.