White & Case secures US$1.65 billion arbitration award for Iraq Telecom Limited

Press Release
2 min read

Global law firm White & Case LLP has secured an award of over US$1.65 billion for Iraq Telecom Limited (IT Ltd.), a joint venture between Agility Public Warehousing Company KSCP and Orange S.A., in an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration against Korek Telecom Company LLC (Korek), an Iraqi telecoms company headquartered in Erbil, and its Chair, Mr. Saber Sirwan Barzani.

The dispute relates to IT Ltd.’s investment of over US$800 million in Korek. IT Ltd. began the arbitration before the ICC in 2020, bringing claims on behalf of itself as well as derivative claims in the name and on behalf of International Holdings Limited (IH Ltd.), an affiliate of IT Ltd. that previously owned 100 percent of Korek's shares.

In an award dated 20 March 2023, the tribunal—comprised of Nicholas Fletcher KC (presiding arbitrator), J. William Rowley KC and David Joseph KC—unanimously found that Korek and Mr. Barzani participated in a corrupt scheme to defraud IT Ltd. and IH Ltd. by bribing Korek's regulators at the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission to issue a decision that effectively stripped IT Ltd. and IH Ltd. of their shareholding in Korek without any compensation. The tribunal also found that the respondents had defrauded IT Ltd. and IH Ltd. through self-dealing, diversions of corporate assets, sham loans, and other schemes, all of which amounted to breaches of Korek's Shareholders' Agreement.

The tribunal awarded US$1.012 billion in damages to IH Ltd. and US$228.8 million in damages to IT Ltd. The tribunal also ordered that the respondents pay pre-award interest to IH Ltd. in the amount of US$317 million and to IT Ltd. in the amount of US$71.7 million, as well as about US$20 million in legal fees and arbitration costs.

The White & Case team that represented IT Ltd. was led by partners John Willems and Noor Davies (Paris), with support from associates James Hart and Viraen Vaswani (both London) and Fernando Labombarda, Yasmine El Achkar and Francesca Annicchiarico (Paris). White & Case acted as co-counsel to IT Ltd. in the ICC arbitration along with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Jones Day.

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