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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Investment disputes settlement committee reaches settlement with Utsch in arbitration cases filed against Egypt -Exclusive

The Ministerial Committee for Settlement of Investment Disputes is finalizing a draft settlement agreement with Germany’s Utsch AG over its international arbitration case filed against Egypt, Committee Chairman Deputy Justice Minister for Arbitration and International Disputes Moustafa El Bahabety told Enterprise exclusively.

The background: The case dates back to what was known as the “license plates” case in which former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, former Interior Minister Habib El Adly, and former Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali were charged with corruption charges related to the 2008 purchase of car license plates from Utsch. Nazif and El Adly were cleared of the charges in 2015. The court in 2011 had also initially convicted Erich Utsch AG’s Chairman and CEO, Helmut Jungbluth, with the ministers, sending him to one year in prison in absentia. Having been sentenced in absentia, Jungbluth could not appeal the decision as he was not physically present in Egypt. The company responded and its subsidiaries Utsch M.O.V.E.R.S. International and Erich Utsch, as well as Jungbluth himself, filed an international arbitration case against Egypt seeking compensation for damages in ICSID Case No. ARB/13/37.

The good news: After the parties agreed to suspend case proceedings in July 2016, El Bahabety tells us an agreement has been reached and a settlement between Egypt, Utsch, and Jungbluth is currently being drafted and will be signed soon. The agreement was possible following a 2015 amendment to article 18-B of the criminal procedures law that allowed for lawyers to represent clients who were convicted in absentia in felonies and file to reinstate proceedings, which resulted in Jungbluth’s acquittal.

…Separately, sources told Al Mal that the office of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is getting involved to help resolve disputes surrounding Orascom Housing Communities (OHC)’s Haram City affordable housing project. The project came to a halt in 2011, but Ittihadiya has reportedly tasked the Ministerial Committee for Settlement of Investment Disputes to resolve the disputes with international partners in the project. El Bahabety could not confirm Al Mal’s assertion of Ittihadiya’s involvement, but told us talks with OHC are still in preliminary stages and all parties are considering means to settle the dispute. OHC says the state’s New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) was contracted to provide it with 2,000 feddans for the project, but ended providing 620 feddans only.

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