US judge rules against Venezuela in dispute with Rusoro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Photo by Eneas De Troya, CC BY 2.0, Flickr.

US Federal District Court Judge Richard J. Leon has stayed Rusoro’s $966.5-million International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes Expropriation award against Venezuela registered in the US.

Following the World Bank agency’s decision to grant the award on August 22, 2016, Rusoro took that judgment to the US Federal Court in Washington, D.C. on October 10, 2016. The idea was to register the award so that they could begin to collect on the judgment against Venezuela assets.

This whole story started back in 2011 when former president Hugo Chávez nationalized the gold industry and seized Rusoro’s 95%-owned Choco 10 mine and 50%-owned Isidora mine, located in the southeastern Guayana region. The Vancouver-based company attempted a series of negotiations with Chávez’s left-wing government but after they all failed, its legal team took the matter to the ICSID.

“For the third time in as many years, Respondent Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela finds itself before the US District Court of the District of Columbia opposing the confirmation of an arbitral award flowing from its expropriation of foreign gold mining assets. In this case, Venezuela seeks to persuade the Court that the arbitral tribunal, constituted pursuant to provisions of the bilateral investment treaty between Canada and Venezuela, exceeded the scope of its authority in awarding damages to Rusoro Mining Limited (“Rusoro”) for the expropriation of that entity’s assets. In the alternative, Venezuela seeks a stay of enforcement of arbitral award in light of a pending appeal of the award in Paris,” Judge Leon’s decision reads.

And the ruling goes on: “Unfortunately for Venezuela, its third time is not a charm and for the reasons that follow, this court will DENY Venezuela’s Motion to Dismiss Petition and to Deny Confirmation of the Arbitral Award (…) and GRANT Rusoro’s Petition to confirm the Award.”

In December 2017, the miner said in a media statement that it was confident that the D.C. Court would confirm the award so that its legal department could continue the battle against Venezuela. According to Rusoro, now they can resort to all the legal procedures that US law provides judgment creditors.