Mozambique’s Case Against Privinvest Heads to Arbitration

Mozambique’s dispute with Privinvest Shipbuilding SAL over the nation’s $2 billion hidden-debt scandal should be decided by arbitration, the London Court of Appeal ruled, according to the company.

“This reflects Privinvest’s strongly held view that these claims should never have been brought in the London courts,” Privinvest said in an emailed statement Thursday. “All of Mozambique’s claims against Privinvest must be brought in arbitration.”

The ruling is a setback for Mozambique, which is seeking to have declared illegal a government guarantee for a $622-million loan that formed part of the debts contracted from 2013 to 2014.

Mozambique will seek to appeal the decision and contest the remaining aspects of Privinvest’s challenge, said Keith Oliver, partner at Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP, which represents the African nation in the U.K. The state will continue its case against the other defendants it named in the same proceedings, including Iskandar Safa, Privinvest’s main beneficial owner, he said.

“We remain committed to seeking open justice for the people of Mozambique,” said Oliver.

Separately, Mozambique’s Supreme Court ordered the release on bail of 6 defendants, and a further 5 without bail, who the attorney general arrested and charged with crimes relating to the case in February 2019, it said in a statement dated Thursday.

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