Serb PM Ivica Dacic has reportedly received a letter from US law firm Chaffetz Lindsey, saying it has filed a EUR 160mn damages claim against Serbia on behalf of its client Securum Equity Partners over a failed solar park project, daily Danas reported.
Luxembourg-based Securum Equity Partners said in August it started a EUR 160mn lawsuit for damages against the Serbian state after cancelling its 1,000 MW solar park agreement with the government in Belgrade. Securum claims the government has not fulfilled its obligations under the solar park project.
Chaffetz Lindsey has filed the claim at a Washington court and, according to the report, the parties could reach an out-of-court settlement on the issue in the next three months. If this does not happen, the court proceeding against Serbia will begin.
Earlier this year Securum filed a similar claim at International Court of Arbitration of London. The trials in both courts are scheduled to begin on Jan 29, 2014, the report said. In August, the company in charge of the project - One Giga Solar Park Incubator, sent a letter of termination on the umbrella agreement to the Serb government.
According to the report, the law firm is confident in the success of its client because back in 2007 Serbia signed the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between states and nationals of other states (the so-called ICSID Convention) of the World Bank, thus obliging to compensate companies for damages they occurred due to a failure to implement an investment because of a state’s fault.
Securum has allegedly decided to file the second court trial and inform the Serbian PM on the matter after its negotiations with energy minister Zorana Mihajlovic failed. Securum and its companies – One Giga Solar Park Incubator and One Giga Project proposed to the Serbian side to agree on an out-of-court settlement worth EUR 40mn – and several times tried to launch talks on it with Mihajlovic. At the same time, Mihajlovic has reportedly insisted to discuss not the cancellation and the settlement but rather the future on the project, saying it will be beneficial for both parties.
Under the agreement Securum signed in October 2012 with the Serbian government, it was due to obtain by April 2013 all necessary permits to launch the project and wrap it up by 2015. The project was expected to bring a EUR 1.75bn investment to southern Serbia, to pay in some EUR 28mn worth of tax revenue annually and facilitate the opening of three plants for photovoltaic panels.
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