June 12, 2017 / 5:56 PM / 5 months ago

Miner Crystallex inches forward in legal dispute with Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Canadian mining company Crystallex has won a court order that advances its efforts to collect on a $1.4 billion award linked to a dispute with Venezuela over the 2008 expropriation of the Las Cristinas gold project.

Crystallex in 2016 won an award of $1.2 billion plus interest from a World Bank Tribunal. In March, it won a ruling by a U.S. District of Columbia court upholding that award, a crucial step in being able to seize Venezuelan assets in the United States.

Crystallex can now seek to enforce the ruling in other U.S. jurisdictions, the same District of Columbia court said in a decision dated Friday.

This could allow Crystallex to seek an attachment of assets such as Citgo, a refining and marketing subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Crystallex this year asked a U.S. court for an injunction against PDVSA, arguing that it carried out $2.8 billion in operations involving Citgo and pledged Citgo shares to Russian oil firm Rosneft (ROSN.MM) as a guarantee for a loan.

Crystallex called those operations an effort to block it from collecting compensation.

Venezuela, which is struggling under triple-digit inflation and a severe recession, is immersed in nearly 20 arbitration disputes with foreign companies resulting mainly from a wave of state takeovers by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

It has reached negotiated settlements to some of the disputes, but companies that have won International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes awards have not been able to collect on them due to frequent appeals and the complexity of attaching Venezuelan assets.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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