JSPL to go for 2nd arbitration against Bolivia
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Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL), which recently terminated its $2.1-billion steel and mines project in Bolivia, will file for arbitration in the International Court of Arbitration, Paris, by the middle of next month on the issue of encashing its $18-million bank guarantee by the Bolivian authorities. The company already has an ongoing arbitration at the international body regarding the encashment of an earlier bank guarantee of the same amount by authorities in February 2010.
The development comes amidst a barrage of accusations and counter-accusations by the two sides over the events leading to the termination of the project. While the Bolivian authorities have maintained that the Jindals illegally fled the country and transferred funds out of Bolivia to the Cayman Islands, JSPL denies all this. Meanwhile, the Bolivian government has sought Interpol's help to track the JSPL executives who left the country.
In an exclusive interview with FE, the first to any media ever since the controversy broke out, Vikrant Gujral, vice-chairman and head (global ventures), JSPL, said that even as they would pursue arbitration, they were willing to settle the issue amicably with the Bolivian government. "We have conveyed this message to the Indian ambassador in Peru, who is accredited to Bolivia as well," Gujral said.
He categorically denied all charges levelled by the Bolivian authorities that he and his team unlawfully fled the country by reneging on their contractual commitments to the project. "We left the country on the advice of our ministry of external affairs officials when we learnt that the Bolivian authorities had wrongfully filed criminal cases against us and were planning to arrest us. Subsequently, we have written to them that we are willing to meet them to sort out the problems in any neutral place and offered Chile, Spain and Brazil as possible locations," Gujral said.
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