Gold Reserve targets Venezuela assets as arbitration spat heats up

Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:23pm EDT
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* Canadian miner awarded $750 mln in arbitration decision

* Dispute centers on Las Brisas gold concession

* Major court decisions expected this year-Gold Reserve

By Alexandra Ulmer

CARACAS, April 16 (Reuters)- - Gold Reserve Inc, a small Canadian miner that lost its crown jewel in a 2009 expropriation, is targeting Venezuelan assets as it seeks to collect a $750 million arbitration award that would put new strains on the cash-strapped government's finances.

With higher-profile cases including Exxon and ConocoPhillips mired in delays, a technicality in Gold Reserve's case filing has allowed it to aggressively seek out new jurisdictions to execute its award.

Its actions could affect bondholders. Gold Reserve said on Monday it has served various Luxembourg banks with writs of garnishment relating to around $700 million in interest payments on Venezuelan bonds and funds. The company targeted banks seen as paying or transfer agents.

The dispute puts more pressure on President Nicolas Maduro amid mounting worries about Venezuela's ability to service debt and stave off a potential technical default due to unpaid arbitration awards.

"We are definitely looking at other jurisdictions," Gold Reserve's president, Doug Belanger, told Reuters on Thursday. "Anything that's a commercial asset of the Venezuelan government is on the table."   Continued...