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Quarrel between Moldova’s richest man and former President spills across borders, as energy company sues Kazakhstan for a Billion Dollars in nationalization fight

publication date: Sep 15, 2010
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By Luke Eric Peterson

A Moldovan energy company with investments in a string of high-political-risk jurisdictions has filed an arbitration claim against the Republic of Kazakhstan following the recent cancellation of a pair of energy contracts.

Ascom S.A. announced in a press release* last week that it was invoking the protections of the multilateral Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and suing Kazakhstan at the Stockholm Arbitration Institute (one of several options provided under the ECT for arbitration of investment disputes).

Ascom’s Kazakh investments in the Tolkyn and Borankol oil fields are held by Tristan Oil, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. In recent years, Ascom has also operated in Turkmenistan, South Sudan, and Iraq.

Ascom owner, Anatol Stati, is widely-considered to be Moldova’s richest man and he has feuded publicly with the former Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin. That clash spilled across borders in 2008, when a letter, purportedly written by Mr. Voronin to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazerbayev surfaced in the international press. The letter heaped criticism upon Mr. Stati and urged Mr. Nazerbayev to scrutinize the Moldovan’s business activities in Kazakhstan.

In a September 8, 2010 recent press release, Ascom alleges that Kazakh authorities complied with President Voronin’s fondest wishes and began a campaign of harassment against Mr. Stati which culminated earlier this year with the seizure of company assets, and the subsequent cancellation of a pair of “Subsoil Use Contracts”. The company says that key assets are now in the hands of state-owned KazMunaiGas.

Ascom contends that it has sunk nearly a Billion Dollars in Kazakhstan over the last decade.

The law firm King & Spalding represents the claimant.

* See Ascom’s press release here.

For background on the quarrel between the former Moldovan President and Mr. Stati see this 2009 Financial Times story.

Investment Arbitration Reporter is a specialized news publication tracking developments in the area of international investment law and policy.

The publication does not offer legal or financial advice or recommendations of any kind.
To offer news-tips or comments, email the Editor, Luke Eric Peterson, at: editor@iareporter.com
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