WWM to collect Kazakh debts

3 September 2002

Kazakhstan The Kazakh government's uranium and marketing production agent, Kazatomprom, said that a US court ruling in its favour in a case brought by World Wide Minerals (WWM), is a "final judgement".

The US Federal Court dismissed claims made by WWM against Kazakhstan, saying that the case hinged on "acts of state", a refusal to issue export licences and confiscation of assets without compensation, which the court says it will not interfere with.

However, WWM will consider further steps to collect a loan made to Kazakhstan in 1996-97 which, with accrued interest and collection costs, amounts to over $29 million. Paul Carroll, president and CEO of WWM, said: "What happened to us should be a warning to all international investors. If the court decision is allowed to stand, a sovereign state can refuse to repay its debts and can cancel commercial contracts, without paying compensation." The case follows the long-standing debate when WWM successfully tendered for management of the uranium operations and assets of Tselliny Gorno Khimicheskii Kombinat (TGK); WWM agreed to lend money to Kazakhstan on a demand basis. In return, WWM was to have the right to freely market its Kazakhstan-produced uranium in the international market. However, applications made by WWM for export licences were denied.

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