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Kuwait Airways expects to regain $1.2b from Iraq.

Dubai After a 21-year chase, Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) is confident it will be able to recover the full $1.2 billion (Dh4.4 billion) it is seeking in compensation from Iraqi Airways Company (IAC) for the theft of 10 aircraft and spare parts seized in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, according to Christopher Gooding, a partner at Fasken Martineau law firm in London representing KAC since August 1990.

KAC last week seized multi-million dollar funds in various Iraqi Airways bank accounts in Amman, Jordan, following orders from a Jordanian court on May 10, 2011.

"This case has been going on since 1991. We are confident that KAC will be able to recover all the judgments. We do not know what has been seized although when IAC last disclosed their bank accounts in Amman they contained $130 million," Gooding told Gulf News in a phone interview, adding that IAC's London bank accounts were seized too.

Asked the motive behind the moves, Gooding said the main point of this whole exercise is to "serve notice on the Iraqi state" that on June 30 when the UN Security Council restrictions disappear on oil assets, "we will be seizing oil assets when and where we can".

Status

Commenting on IAC's bank accounts status in the Middle East, Gooding said: "They bank extremely widely in the Middle East. There are banks in the region also where they hold accounts. But we don't know details yet as the Central Bank has to come back to us on that first and only then I would be able to say anything on this subject."

Meanwhile, there has been a stunning silence from Iraqi Airways, according to Gooding. He said: "They have never been to the Jordanian court for these proceedings. It's difficult to understand why with a country as wealthy as Iraq, no sensible solution can be reached. We are absolutely baffled as to why there has not been a serious and sensible approach."

He added that the door for discussions has always been and is still open. "They have never also been to the Jordanian court for these proceedings," Gooding said. Efforts made by Gulf News to contact officials at the Iraqi carrier and the Iraqi transport ministry were unsuccessful.

In further actions, KAC will slowly start "closing commercial opportunities for Iraq" as a state in its capacity as a controller and financier for Iraqi Airways, Gooding said. "Kuwait Airways has a legal duty to protect state funds," he said.

Asked if Iraqi Airways is expected to continue its operations normally despite all the action being taken against the carrier. Gooding said: "It remains to be seen how long IAC would be able to fly into Jordan EoAC" their hub EoAC" without any finances. There has been deafening silence from everyone."

The dispute between KAC and IAC has been the longest-running commercial case in the history of British courts, Gooding said, mainly due to a series of findings of perjury against IAC which led to an overthrowing of 12 years of previous decisions.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:May 27, 2011
Words:523
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