Federal govt will protect its national assets, wherever they may be, says Attorney General

ISLAMABAD    –  Reacting to the ex-parte order of the High Court of British Virgin Islands to attach Pakistani institutions assets abroad, the Attorney General of Pakistan Thursday said that the federal government will protect its national assets, wherever they may be. 

In a statement issued by the AGP office, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan said that when an aggrieved party approaches the courts, the courts usually grant temporary relief, which the High Court of Justice of the British Virgin Islands did by passing an ex-parte order regarding attachment of the Pakistani assets abroad. 

The AGP has confirmed the decision of the HC Virgin Islands. However, he said, “It is reiterated that the government of Pakistan shall vigorously pursue proceedings initiated by TCC in any jurisdiction and the government reaffirms commitment to protecting national assets, wherever they may be located.” 

It was November 20 when Tethyan Cooper Company had filed a case in the High Court for attachment of the assets belonging to the Pakistan International Airlines Investment Ltd, a company which is also incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. 

TCC, a joint venture between Chile’s Antofagasta Plc and Canada’s Barrick Gold, the Chilean miner, in 2012 had filed a case against Pakistan in International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which on 12th July 2019 rendered an Award of $5.976 billion, which include $4.08 billion penalty and $1.87 billion in interest. Pakistani government therefore has to pay this amount to the TCC. 

The AGP Office said, “The federal government is vigorously contesting these proceedings with all the legal resources available to it. The government of Pakistan is, however, also engaged to settle the matter amicably.” 

Pakistan had appealed the penalty imposed by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on several grounds. The tribunal is still considering Pakistan’s appeal against the penalty over its decision to cancel the Reko Diq mining lease for the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) and a final hearing will take place in May 2021.  

The ICSID on September 17 issued a 70-page order in which it was decided that the stay of enforcement of $6 billion award — the same forum rendered on July 12, 2019 — shall be continued on a conditional basis. 

The order said that Pakistan shall provide an “unconditional and irrevocable” bank guarantee or the LC for 25 per cent of the award, plus accrued interest as of the date of the decision. The guarantee or the LC was to come from a reputable international bank based outside of Pakistan, which was pledged in favour of the claimant — Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) — and to be released on the order of the ICSID.

The ICSID also held that if Pakistan could not furnish the security and undertaking in terms as set out within 30 days after notification of the decision, the stay of enforcement in the amount of 50 per cent of the award, plus accrued interest as of the date of the decision would be lifted. However, Pakistan missed the deadline and did not deposit 25 per cent bank guarantee.

 

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