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Reko Diq penalty: Judicial panel to launch probe

PM Imran Khan has directed constitution of a judicial commission on $6 billion penalty awarded to Pakistan by a World Bank arbitration court in the Reko Diq case.

By Agencies
July 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday directed constitution of a judicial commission on $6 billion penalty awarded to Pakistan by a World Bank arbitration court in the famous Reko Diq case.

The commission will investigate how the situation resulted into a huge penalty, why Pakistan was fined and who brought loss to the national exchequer.

The Attorney General’s office issued a press release stating that together with the Balochistan government they were analyzing the legal and financial effects of the court orders and that the government was considering all aspects of the matter and will decide the future course with consultation.

The press release said the Government of Pakistan had the right to use all legal options available under the international laws. The government also welcomed Tethyan Copper Company’s (TCC) offer to resolve the issue through negotiations. It also welcomed all the international investors to Pakistan.

The press release said Pakistan was interested in the development of Reko Diq resources and as a responsible state saw the international agreements and protection of legal rights and interests with seriousness.

The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) imposed a penalty of $5.8 billion on Pakistan. In a 700-page ruling the ICSID awarded $4.08 billion penalty and $1.87 billion in interest to Pakistan.

The amount will be paid to the company that had been granted license for gold and copper mining but a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declared the agreement null and void in a short order in 2013.

The judicial commission will also grill Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The company moved the ICSID against Pakistan, claiming $11.43 billion in damages. The ICDID ruling has come at a time when the PTI-led government is going to all lengths to shore up economy and stave off a looming balance of payments crisis.

The company discovered vast reserves of gold and copper in Reko Diq around a decade ago. The consortium Tethyan Copper Company — of which Canadian gold firm Barrick and Chile's Antofagasta Minerals control 37.5 per cent each — is the largest Foreign Direct Investment mining project in the country. The company had invested over $220 million by the time the Government of Pakistan refused to grant a mining lease in 2011.