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TALCO accuses RUSAL of violating confidentiality of arbitration proceedings.

The State Unitary Enterprise Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO) accuses the leadership of the Russian aluminum giant RUSAL of violating confidentiality in arbitration proceedings.

Thus, TALCO claims that information campaign of RUSAL, which involved online media resources, is contrary to the requirements of confidentiality in arbitration proceedings and the existing bilateral agreements.

It may also entail response actions by TALCO, which will undoubtedly receive negative "splash" on the world aluminum market.

The statement came after EurasiaNet made a publication on June 9 that TALCO allocated almost $100 million to buy two Boeing 737s to start a private airline reportedly controlled by the brother-in-law of Emomali Rahmon.

Thus, the money for the two planes - over $96 million, according to Deutsche Bank records shown to EurasiaNet by RUSAL representatives - was paid between July 2008 and November 2010 out of a bank account belonging to CDH Investments Corporation. CDH, registered in the British Virgin Islands, acted until 2007 as the aluminum factory's middleman and beneficiary, buying raw materials for the plant and selling its aluminum output at a hefty profit.

TALCO's chief information officer, Igor Sattarov, confirmed that CDH had bought Boeings for Somon Air at the government's behest and invested its profits into other state "social programs."

Sattarov called suggestions that TALCO revenues were funneled into the private airline "absurd," saying there was no formal relationship between TALCO and CDH at the time; CDH had provided its services to TALCO's predecessor, TadAZ, before the plant changed its name in 2007. Nonetheless, in its January ruling, the U.S. federal court considered the entities sufficiently closely linked to grant RUSAL access to CDH's bank records.

Today, attorneys for RUSAL are combing those records to identify funds and property it can seize in lieu of a debt that the company maintains is over $360 million.

The relationship between RUSAL, its predecessors, and the Tajik aluminum plant stretches back to the 1990s, interweaving the two enterprises' commercial interests with their ties to political elites in their respective countries.

The current dispute began after a 2004 management change at the Tajik plant. During an ensuing, inconclusive battle in the London High Court, the previous management alleged people close to Rakhmon and RUSAL engineered the takeover; TALCO still says the previous management stole hundreds of millions of dollars. The two parties settled out of court, with legal fees reportedly totaling over $100 million.

The relationship was bolstered by a 2004 promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin who pledged $2 billion in investment to Tajikistan, much of it ostensibly to build Rogun -the giant hydropower dam that Rakhmon speaks of with almost religious zeal. RUSAL was tapped to be effectively in charge of construction; in exchange, it was supposed to get a controlling interest in the aluminum plant.

By 2006, however, the Rogun-for-factory deal was falling apart, ostensibly over a dispute involving the dam's height. In addition, the factory's new management had more or less concentrated the production cycle in its own hands, using offshore partners both to supply raw materials and to sell the finished aluminum.

After RUSAL pulled out of Tajikistan in 2007, its subsidiaries Hamer Investing Ltd and Aluminum and Bauxite Company (Albaco) began arbitration in Switzerland, culminating last October with two wins. A Swiss tribunal ordered TALCO to pay Hamer $275 million related to broken supply contracts dating back 10 years. Later, a court in the British Virgin Islands held up an older Swiss award for $70 million to Albaco. With interest as set by the courts accruing at nearly $45,000 per day, a RUSAL spokesperson said, the company calculates TALCO's debt to its subsidiaries as of May 20 at $363 million.

TALCO rejects the foreign court rulings, insisting the cases be heard in a Tajik court. The company says it has documentary evidence proving RUSAL was using criminal schemes to bankrupt the Tajik plant and thereby eliminate a competitor. RUSAL dismisses the accusations, pointing out that the Swiss tribunal rejected TALCO's $400 million counterclaim.

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Publication:AKIpress News Agency
Date:Jun 12, 2014
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