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Foreign companies to take Lithuania to arbitration over Snoras' bankruptcy

Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / „Snoras“
Šaltinis: BNS

Fourteen foreign companies – creditors of Snoras, a commercial bank in bankruptcy – have filed claims to the Lithuanian government launching the international arbitration proceedings in an investment dispute with Lithuania.

The total value of assets lost and disputed by the companies – mostly cash in accounts and bonds – made up some 100 million litas (EUR 28.98 mln), Raidla Lejins & Norcous, the law firm representing the companies, said in a press release.

Elijus Burgis, a lawyer with Raidla Lejins & Norcous, told BNS that the claim to the government essentially marked the launch of arbitration proceedings.

"Now we will wait for an answer to the claim. A decision on further actions will be taken depending on the answer. We should get the answer within a month, although last time we had to wait for almost two months for the government's answer," the lawyer said.

According to the law firm, its customers have decided to launch legal battle against Lithuania after examining the government's actions when nationalizing Snoras and declaring it bankrupt. Most foreign investors question legitimacy of these actions as well as Snoras' supervision by the Bank of Lithuania, hence the number of such claims might increase.

The arbitration institution had not been chosen yet, Burgis said.

"There are various options, including arbitration in Washington, Stockholm or the so-called ad hoc arbitration made up of any chosen experts in any country. It would be most practical to hold the proceedings in Europe but this has not been decided," he said.

Raidla Lejins & Norcous has brought together the largest group of small creditors of Snoras and is also working with the Investors' Association.

The law firm will represent its clients in courts not only in disputes over Snoras' bonds and deposits of certificates, but also in disputes over insurance payments and Snoras' bankruptcy, and other possible disputes.

Two clients of Raidla Lejins & Norcous - the offshore chemical product trade companies TotalChem Trading and Altraco Chemicals - filed a claim to the Finance Ministry last November. It was said then that the move was aimed at protecting more than 2 million US dollars in working capital held in the companies' bank accounts.

TotalChem Trading is registered in Panama, and Altraco Chemicals in the British Virgin Islands. Neither of them has a subsidiary in Lithuania.

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