World Wide Minerals (WWM), a Canadian natural resource developer, has, together with its president and CEO Paul A Carroll, a citizen and resident of Canada, initiated arbitration proceedings against the Republic of Kazakhstan under the 1989 Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (the Canada/USSR BIT).
Based upon its multi-million dollar investment in 1996-1997 WWM managed and operated one of the largest uranium-processing facilities in the former Soviet state. It entered into numerous agreements with the Republic of Kazakhstan whereby the government promised its full cooperation in the venture, and WWM poured millions of dollars of capital investment into the country to repair and modernize the country’s uranium processing facilities and to finance uranium production and expansion.
Soon thereafter, however, the Republic of Kazakhstan breached its contractual obligations to WWM and imposed upon it bureaucratic restrictions aimed solely at frustrating the object and purpose of those contracts - ultimately leading to the suspension of operations at WWM’s facility, and the bankruptcy, confiscation, and forced sale of its Kazakhstan assets by the State. According to Paul Carroll, the arbitral claim seeks to “hold Kazakhstan accountable for its deliberate acts and omissions that deprived WWM of its substantial investment in the country.”
The claimants are being represented by lawyers in Jones Day’s Global Disputes practice in Washington, DC and London, England. According to Baiju S Vasani, a partner in Jones Day’s London office representing the claimants, “WWM was encouraged by the Government of Kazakhstan to invest in the country's mineral resources at a time when it desperately needed foreign investment and know-how, and was subsequently deprived of its investment by the State’s unlawful acts. This is precisely the sort of conduct that the Republic of Kazakhstan pledged to avoid when it expressly succeeded to the obligations under the Canada/USSR BIT.”
Sir Franklin Berman KCMG QC of Essex Court Chambers, London England, is the claimants’ party-appointed arbitrator to a three-member arbitral panel to decide this dispute. The arbitral panel under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules is expected to be fully constituted early in 2014.