Gold Reserve announced on February 7 that the Paris Court of Appeal rejected all of Venezuela’s arguments and issued a judgment dismissing the annulment applications filed by Venezuela pending before the French courts in relation to the arbitral award dated September 22, 2014, rendered by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. 

In October 2014 and January 2015, Venezuela filed annulment applications regarding the award and the December 15, 2014, arbitral decision dismissing its request for rectification. During the same period, the company applied to the court for exequatur of the award, which entails recognition and enforcement of the award in France. The court issued the exequatur on January 29, 2015, declaring the award to be recognized and enforceable in France.

The court considered and rejected each of the arguments raised by Venezuela, confirming that the arbitral tribunal properly took jurisdiction over the matter; the parties were treated equitably, and the rights of defense and the adversarial principles were respected; the arbitral tribunal ruled within the mandate conferred upon it; and the award is not contrary to French international public policy.

As a result, the court dismissed the annulment applications and so the $713 million award plus interest remains enforceable in France. The court also ordered Venezuela to pay €150,000 for the company’s legal fees and costs. Venezuela can consider the option of appealing the judgment before the French Cour de cassation, which is the court of final resort in the French judicial system.

“Even though we prevailed in this matter, we consider Venezuela our partner and look forward to satisfaction of the settlement agreement and advancing the development of the gold copper silver Siembra Minera project [aka Brisas Cristinas],” said James Coleman, chairman, Gold Reserve.

In August 2016, Gold Reserve Inc. announced it had reached an agreement with the government of Venezuela regarding its Brisas gold-copper project, which was expropriated by the government in 2009, which was under Hugo Chavez’s leadership at that time. The agreement included payment of an arbitral award granted in favor of the company by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The arbitral award was valued at $769,681,823, including accrued interest up to February 24. Payment was to be made in two installments. How the Venezuelan government would raise the money to make these payments was not immediately clear.

In 2008, Rusoro Mining, a Canadian mining company with a large land position in Venezuela, launched a $108 million takeover bid for Gold Reserve, which held the rights to the Brisas gold/copper project. In February 2009, a Canadian Judge granted an injunction because of apparent conflicts of interest and confidentiality violations by a financial advisor, Endeavour Financial. A Grand Cayman incorporated company, Endeavour advised both mining companies at one point in time.

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