Delaware, 4th November 2019 – Judge Amy Berman from the District Court of Columbia ruled in favor of Owens-Illinois, granting the company judicial approval to register the judgment in its favor and seek attachment of Venezuelan assets and execution of the ruling in the United States.
The case started after the Venezuelan government expropriated Owens Illinois assets in the country in 2010. The glass bottle manufacturer then sued Venezuela, and on March 10, 2015 an ICSID tribunal awarded the firm almost $400 million as damages for the unlawful expropriation. The amount owed by Venezuela has since climbed to close to $500 million as interest continues to accrue.
The administration of Juan Guaidó had been in charge of representing Venezuela since the courts recognized his government as the rightful representative of the country. His defense was based on the argument that it would be unreasonable to begin enforcement proceedings against Venezuelan assets at this time due to the political and humanitarian crises that the country is going through. While the court acknowledged the complex reality in Venezuela, it argued that the unusual situation “bolster plaintiff’s argument that it should be allowed to seek attachment” since the defendant “has not pointed the Court to any mechanism or internal procedures through which it will satisfy the judgment” and in fact actually agreed that it was unable to do so at the time.
It’s important to highlight that even though the court ruled in favor of Owens Illinois, the company would still be barred from seizing Venezuelan assets in the United States due to executive orders that forbid all transfers, exports or transactions related to Venezuelan assets.
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