ICSID Case No. ARB/15/28, HydroSrl, Costruzioni Srl, Francesco Becchetti, Mauro de Renzis, Stefania Grigolon and Liliana Condomitti vs. Albania

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan successfully advised HydroSrl, Costruzioni Srl, Francesco Becchetti, Mauro de Renzis, Stefania Grigolon and Liliana Condomitti on the dispute

In a detailed and well reasoned unanimous decision dated April 24th, an international tribunal organized under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) found Albania liable for the illegal expropriation of Agonset in violation of the bilateral investment treaty between Italy and Albania, and ordered Albania to compensate Francesco Becchetti and others 110,000,000.00 euros for direct damages. In addition, the finding of illegal expropriation entitles the Albanian partner of Mr. Becchetti, Fuqi Sh.pk, to 30,000,000.00 from Albania.

The ICSID arbitration award is final and immediately enforceable as a final judgment.

The award was communicated to the International law firms representing the Italian entrepreneur in the arbitral proceedings (Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan).

The dispute that was the subject of the international arbitration proceeding stemmed from a campaign of attack and retaliation carried out by the Albanian authorities against companies owned by the Italian entrepreneur which were engaged in the creation of the first delocalized television station in Europe. In June 2015, the Prosecutor of Tirana issued an arrest warrant for Messrs. Becchetti and De Renzis, wrongly accusing them of tax evasion, falsification of documents, embezzlement and money laundering and requested their extradition from the United Kingdom.

This award stands as a vindication of Mr Becchetti, as its findings contradict the supposed basis of the criminal charges by confirming the legitimacy of the investments made by Mr Becchetti in Albania, in the television and hydroelectric sectors. The award reveals the harsh political persecution to which Francesco Becchetti and his managers have been subjected to for their role in establishing Agon Channel, and discredits the criminal charges that were levelled against them to attempt to stifle political debate.

Francesco Becchetti commented: “I am glad that after 4 years of hard battle we have successfully iestablished the truth with the vital assistance of our lawyers. Naturally, our first thoughts go to all the families of the Group’s employees, about 2,000 people who have had to suffer so unjustly in the years this case has been ongoing.

Receiving confirmation of having been subject to a persecution from a state is rare, and we are pleased that the words written by the arbitrators vindicate us completely.

In addition to the decision of the arbitrators, we feel vindicated by the Courts in London, who found that the extradition requests from Albania were an abuse of process; and by Interpol, who retracted the international arrest warrants against us after Albania was unable to justify them.”

David W Rivkin commented: “We are very pleased that the arbitral tribunal recognized the political motivation behind Prime Minister Rama’s actions against Mr. Becchetti. A fair and neutral tribunal stood up for a fair and effective free press.”

Catherine Amirfar commented: “This award stands as a strong rebuke to the unlawful conduct of the Albanian authorities to go after independent media and reminds us all of the continued vitality of the rule of law.”

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP advised the claimants with a team led by Partner Philippe Pinsolle in Geneva and associates Alexander Leventhal and Marco Garofalo in Paris; partner Tai-Heng Cheng in New York.

Debevoise & Plimpton advised with a team led by Partners David W Rivkin, Catherine Amirfar, Christopher Tahbaz and Ina Popova in New York.

Scemla Loizon Veverka & De Fontmichel advised with Partner Alexandre de Fontmichel in Paris.

Saccucci Fares & Partners Studio Legale Internazionale acted with a team led by Partner Andrea Saccucci in Rome.

Mishcon de Reya advised the claimants with a team led by Partner Karel Daele in London.

Studio di Porto advised Hydro Srl with a team led by Partner Andrea Di Porto.

Gowling WLG advised Albania with a team led by Partners David Breslin and Michael Darowski, director Karen O’Connell and principal associate Anna Packwood in London.

Involved fees earner: Catherine Amirfar – Debevoise & Plimpton; Ina Popova – Debevoise & Plimpton; David Rivkin – Debevoise & Plimpton; Christopher Tahbaz – Debevoise & Plimpton; Andrea Di Porto – Di Porto Studio Legale; David Breslin – Gowling WLG; Michael Darowski – Gowling WLG; Karen O’Connell – Gowling WLG; Anna Packwood – Gowling WLG; Karel Daele – Mishcon de Reya; Tai-Heng Cheng – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Marco Garofalo – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Alexander Leventhal – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Philippe Pinsolle – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Andrea Saccucci – Saccucci Fares & Partners; Alexandre de Fontmichel – SLV&F;

Law Firms: Debevoise & Plimpton; Di Porto Studio Legale; Gowling WLG; Mishcon de Reya; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Saccucci Fares & Partners; SLV&F;

Clients: Francesco Becchetti; Hydro S.r.l.; Republic of Albania;

Author: Ambrogio Visconti