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Businessman Seeks Sale Of $5.2B Stake In Kazakhstan Oil Field

Moldovan businessman Anatolie Stati will ask courts to sell US$5.2 billion worth of a stake in Kazakhstan’s biggest oil field, Kashagan, held by a Kazakh sovereign wealth fund if Kazakhstan continues to refuse to pay an arbitration award of US$500 million, a spokeswoman for Stati told Reuters on Tuesday.

Stati and his son Gabriel Stati, along with two companies owned by them, have been embroiled in lawsuits with Kazakhstan after the Statis initiated a legal dispute, claiming that they have been subjected to harassment by the state of Kazakhstan over their investment in two oil and gas fields in the country. The claimants said the ultimate goal of the harassment was to force them to sell their assets cheaply.

The investors have refused to sell their oil assets to Kazakhstan, and instead found an external buyer, but the deal never took place because the state took over the oilfields. Kazakhstan has argued that the fields have been badly managed, and it had to step in to save the companies.

The Moldovan investors have won an arbitration award of US$500 million against Kazakhstan, which it has refused to pay.

In a rare move, Bank of New York Mellon froze at the end of last year US$22 billion worth of assets held by Kazakhstan’s sovereign oil wealth fund as part of the years-long legal battle.

Last week, the Amsterdam District Court upheld the US$5.2 billion asset freeze of the stake of Kazakh sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna in Kashagan, the Statis said in a statement on Monday. Via its stake in Kashagan, Kazakhstan participates in the international consortium operating the large oilfield together with Eni, Shell, Total, ExxonMobil, CNPC, and Inpex.    

Speaking to Reuters today, Stati’s spokeswoman said that the expected course of action was foreclosure of the US$5.2-billion stake in Kashagan.

Related: The Single Biggest Oil Price Influencer In 2018

“We will aggressively pursue enforcement in all relevant jurisdictions until the Republic of Kazakhstan complies with its treaty commitment to the award,” she told Reuters.

The Kazakh fund Samruk-Kazyna said that the asset freeze had no effect on day-to-day management of the stake in Kashagan, and that it was making “all necessary arrangements to protect its interest in accordance with the applicable procedure and will continue to vigorously defend its rights.” 

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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