18 Mar 2008

Exxon lose, Venezuelan people win

Samuel Moncada is excellent period. Nice to see him have a good day in court supporting his country and his President.

I say keep the 'oil in the soil' getting it back off of Exxon is a step in the right direct, a difficult thing moving an economy from oil export dependency but this will help not hinder.

Samuel gave an excellent speech on green politics to Green Party conference just a few weeks ago and as soon as I am fully recovered I aim to meet him and ask what I can do to support Venezuela against US interference (well probably only a little but I will do my best)

US oil giant loses Venezuela case

Moncada said the ruling to suspend the freezing of Venezuelan assets was a defeat for ExxonMobil [AFP]
A London judge has suspended a court order that froze $12bn of Venezuelan assets awarded to US oil giant ExxonMobil in a dispute over oil interests.

Judge Paul Walker said ExxonMobil had "no good arguable case" that Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Venezuela's state oil company, had acted unjustifiably in taking control of two of its operations.

The ruling came after ExxonMobil won a court order against PDVSA as part of an international arbitration to win compensation for assets seized during the nationalisation of Venezuelan oil fields.

The funds were originally frozen so that ExxonMobil could be compensated should it win arbitration.

"I have today held that the injunction granted on 24 January 2008 against the defendant [PDVSA] should be discharged," Judge Walker said in a statement on Tuesday.

"In the absence of any exceptional feature such as fraud, and in the absence of substantial assets of PDVSA located here, the fact that the seat of arbitration is not here makes it inappropriate to grant an order," he said.

'No fraud'

Judge Walker said there was no evidence that there was any international fraud involved, which would normally allow a worldwide asset freezing order to be imposed.

Exxon was ordered to make an interim payment of $765,300 to cover legal costs within 21 days.

Gordon Pollock, a lawyer for PDVSA, said the ruling was "comprehensive" and "ground-breaking".

"This will be an important decision for future, a precedent," he said.

Samuel Moncada, ambassador for Venezuela, said the judgment was a victory for Venezuela.

"This was a defeat of the tactics of judicial terrorism used by ExxonMobil," he said.

"This is the beginning of the end of the harassment campaign Exxon instigated against Venezuela. We are planning to fight all of the way," he told reporters at the High Court in London.

International orders

Exxon declined to comment on whether it would appeal the ruling, but said it had no impact on the company's claim for compensation for the assets taken during the nationalisation process.

"We think that it's important the court did not question the merits of [Exxon's] underlying claim, but rather concluded that an English court should not issue a pre-judgment worldwide freezing order," Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for ExxonMobil, said.

Last month, Venezuela asked ExxonMobil to resume talks on the nationalisation dispute, sponsored by the World Bank.

It also asked the US oil company to abandon legal cases in New York and London.

ExxonMobil won court orders in New York, London, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles freezing about $12bn of PDVSA assets in those jurisdictions.

Last month, a New York federal judge approved a freeze of $300m in Venezuelan assets held in a US bank, after PDVSA suspended supplies to ExxonMobil.

Venezuela is a major supplier of oil to the United States, but Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, is a staunch critic of the US government.

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