Argentina formally challenged on July 29 the appointments of Judge Francisco Orrego Vicuña as mediator in Argentina’s dispute with Spanish oil firm Repsol and Claus von Wobeser as the head of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)’s arbitral tribunal that will pronounce a ruling in the case, it was revealed by Telam the official news agency.
Repsol Oil is challenging Argentina at the World Bank ICSID over Argentina’s controversial seizure of a majority stake of YPF last year.
The government of President Cristina Fernandez called for Chilean Judge Orrego Vicuña to be removed as mediator due to his history of rulings against Argentina in three previous cases with fines amounting to 472 million dollars.
Likewise Orrego Vicuña was the Pinochet government representative during the frustrated negotiations of Argentina with Chile over the Beagle channel dispute, which almost ended in an armed conflict. Orrego Vicuña was also the Pinochet regime ambassador in London.
According to Argentina, von Wobeser has work commitments and multiple links to the Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer law firm that is representing Repsol in its complaint against the Argentine government.
Given these backgrounds Argentina challenged before ICSID the two appointments on 29 July with a 36 page document thoroughly supported “full of legal and political arguments” in the case ARB/12/38.
The appointment of Orrego Vicuña is considered “truly offensive for Argentina” and the annulment of three rulings dictated by the same person by ad hoc committees “is without record in the history of ICSID”.
The president of the tribunal was also an active member of the Pinochet dictatorship that ruled Chile from 1973 to 1989 and ten years later in 1999, he argued in favour of Pinochet to avoid the dictator’s extradition to Spain from the UK, said Argentina in its complaint.
Regarding von Wobeser, Argentina sent its objections in time and form but the ICSID secretariat alleged they were presented too late despite the fact Repsol admitted to the contrary. Nevertheless ICSID confirmed the Mexican solicitor without taking into account the arguments from Argentina, concludes the release.