By Sami Zaptia.
London, 10 September 2016:
The Kuwaiti Al-Kharafi Construction Group has abandoned its attempts to seize a Libyan aircraft located in France, reports AFP.
The Kharafi group had been attempting to take ownership of the luxurious Libyan plane, previously used by Qaddafi, for payment of a settlement ordered by a court for the Libyan cancellation of a tourism contract in 2010. The plane had been flown to the French city of Perpignan for maintenance in 2012.
The Kharafi group’s decision to abandon the case followed an August 25 decision by a court in Perpignan, reports AFP.
“We have preferred to focus on the seizure of other Libyan assets, which will be more feasible,” Al-Kharafi’s French lawyer, Remi Barousse, told AFP.
It will be recalled that in December last year a French court had lifted the freeze put on Qaddafi’s former plane after the Kuwaiti construction group Al-Kharafi attempted to sell it to recover a billion dollars it was awarded by a Cairo arbitration court.
“It is very satisfying to see the judge has recognised the fact this plane, which belongs to the Libyan state, has immunity from being seized,” Carole Sportes, lawyer for the Libyan side had told AFP.
The Al-Kharafi Group was attempting to seize Qaddafi’s A340 Airbus which he bought from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for €120 million in 2003.
Damaged during the revolution, it was sent to France for repairs and has been there ever since awaiting payment of its repair bill estimated in the millions.
French lawyers acting for Libya had claimed sovereign immunity in the case.
An arbitration panel in Cairo had ordered Libya in March 2013 to pay nearly a billion dollars to the Kuwaiti company for the loss of 90 years’ potential income from a cancelled Tripoli tourism project.
The Kharafi Group had been given the damages in arbitration proceedings organised by the Arab League as part of the Unified Agreement for the Investment of Arab Capital in Arab States.
Since 1992, the Arab Convention on Commercial Arbitration has worked under the aegis of the League.
The Kuwaiti group, owned by one of the richest merchant families in the Gulf, has a $4-billion annual turnover. It had agreed in 2006 to develop a $130-million Holiday Inn-branded resort in the Tajoura area of Tripoli, to be completed in 2011.
Besides a 252-room hotel, it would have included 100 villas, a shopping mall, a convention centre, spa and 1.4 km of beach with a club and water sport facilities. When Kharafi established its subsidiary Sovereign Hospitality Holdings in 2008, the project was transferred to it.
Until the uprising, when the deal was apparently cancelled, the Kuwaitis said that they had invested in feasibility studies, design and management contracts. These have been estimated at around US$ 5 million. However, the major part of their claim was for the loss of projected profit which they put at LD 1.2 billion, plus interest.
|Arbitration award against Libya||to Kuwaiti Kharafi Group|
|1||US$ 30 million||Compensation for ‘‘moral damages’’|
|2||US$ 5 million||Representing the value of losses and expenses.|
|3||US$ 900 million||Compensation for lost profits resulting from real and certain lost opportunities.|
|4||US$ 1.94 million||Arbitration costs and expenses.|
|5||4% interest rate||Shall apply to all amounts awarded from date of issuance of decision until full settlement|
|Total: 936, 940 million|
It is thought that this may be the first such ruling on loss of future income by the Arab Convention on Commercial Arbitration, which was in part designed to protect Arab investors in other Arab League countries.