British Virgin Islands Court releases frozen assets of Pak airlines in Reko Diq case verdict reversal

·3-min read
Reko Diq copper mine (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Reko Diq copper mine (Photo Credit - Reuters)

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 27 (ANI): A British Virgin Islands (BVI) High Court on Tuesday released the frozen assets of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) hotels in Paris and Manhattan from a USD 6 billion pay-out to Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) in Reko Diq case verdict reversal.

Following the historic legal victory, PIA has again received ownership of its hotels located in the US and France and other properties, reported Pakistan Today.

BVI High Court Justice Gerhard Wallbank, while passing the order on December 10, 2020, had attached certain assets belonging to PIA, including the company's interests in two hotels -- Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, New York, and Scribe Hotel in central Paris - as well as the erstwhile frozen 40 per cent interest of PIA in a third entity, Minhal Incorporated.

The court had issued the order after the TCC approached it for enforcement of the USD 5.97 billion award against Pakistan by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Reko Diq litigation on July 12, 2019, reported Pakistan Today.

Justice Wallbank has ruled in favour of Pakistan after a review appeal the country submitted on the November 2020 verdict in which TCC had won an award of USD 6 billion, about the size of IMF's bailout package to Pakistan, to be paid by Pakistan and in turn asked the court to freeze its assets registered in BVS remits.

Moreover, the High Court has further ruled the litigation expenses incurred by the country in the review appeal will also be recompensed by TCC.

Earlier this year, the legal team of Tethyan Copper, a gold and copper exploration company involved in Balochistan to develop the Reko Diq mine, visited Islamabad to settle the billion-dollar dispute with the government, reported Pakistan Today.

According to Civil Aviation Authority, the office of the Attorney General had requested a travel permit for the team from February 9 to 15. Following the AG office's request, the team was allowed to visit the country.

In 2013, the Supreme Court, in a long-running dispute between the Balochistan government and TCC -- a joint venture between Chile's Antofagasta and Canada's Barrick Gold -- over the right to develop a USD 3.3 billion copper-gold deposit, ruled against the latter, citing imbalanced stakes.

According to the original agreement signed in 1993, Balochistan holds a 25 per cent stake in the project, with Tethyan holding the remaining 75 per cent, reported Pakistan Today.

Subsequently, in July 2019, a World Bank arbitration court ordered the government to pay damages of USD 5.8 billion to Tethyan.

Since then, the government is in talks with Tethyan to settle the dispute. "We have been engaged in negotiations with parties involved in the Reko Diq dispute," said an official who is part of the team handling negotiations, without providing further details, reported Pakistan Today.

The parties have been in talks for an extended period since Tethyan in 2018 expressed willingness to explore a negotiated settlement, Reuters quoted a second official as saying in 2019.

Reko Diq, located in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan, is one of the world's biggest untapped copper and gold deposits. Development of the asset has been stalled for nearly a decade by the long-running dispute. (ANI)

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