Weather Investments, owned by Egyptian telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris, launched a $5 billion claim against Algerian Government for alleged harassment and interference with the country’s telecoms operator Orascom Telecom Algerie. Weather Investments havs invested over $3 billion and created 4,000 jobs after winning a competitive bid to build Algeria’s telecommunications infrastructure in 2001. The claim has been lodged with the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) and is one of the largest claims to be brought before the international arbitration tribunal so far.
Weather Investments claim that the Algerian Government has repeatedly breached its responsibilities under the “agreement between the Belgo-Luxembourg Economic Union and the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria concerning the reciprocal encouragement and protection of investments” signed by both parties in 1991. The breaches include imposition of unjustified tax, customs blockades – preventing the company from importing necessary network equipment, and imposition of unjustified fines.
The Algerian Government, represented by Emmanuel Gaillard – head of international arbitration group at Shearman & Sterling, stated that they intend to defend the case vigorously and that they cannot see any room for the treaty breach.
Weather Investments had issued a notice of dispute earlier this year with an intention to settle within six months, and after failure to reach such settlement, the claimant had filed the ICSID arbitration which was acknowledged last Friday.