By Kim Jae-won
Samsung Engineering said Thursday that it filed an international arbitration complaint against the Oman government earlier this week over an oil refinery plant deal worth $1 billion.
The construction unit of Samsung Group said it asked the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to arbitrate a refinery improvement project in which the company was chosen as a preferred bidder in 2013 by the state-run Oman Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (ORPIC).
"We submitted the request for arbitration from the third party. We were chosen as a preferred bidder for the project, but ORPIC withdrew the project during the negotiations," said a Samsung Engineering spokesman.
He said that ORPIC took out its deposit for the contract which was set aside as a form of callable bond. Samsung did not reveal the amount of the deposit.
According to the ICSID, the U.S. law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton will represent Samsung in the international court, which is based in Washington, D.C.
On the Oman's side, the country's Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Oil and Gas will deal with the matter.
Representatives of the Oman Embassy in Seoul were not available for comment.
This is the third time that a Korean company has taken foreign countries to the ICSID. In 2013, a local builder filed a complaint against Libya with the international court over a large construction project. Last year, Ansung Housing, a mid-sized construction company, filed a complaint against the Chinese government with the ICSID over building a golf course in Jiangsu, southeastern China.
A few years ago, U.S. private equity Lone Star Funds filed a complaint against the Korean government with the court over the financial regulator's approval for its sale of Korea Exchange Bank. Lone Star argued that it suffered from losses worth $4.7 billion because the Financial Services Commission suspended to approve its KEB sale to HSBC in 2008. The case is still pending in the ICSID.
ICSID is an independent, depoliticized and effective dispute-settlement institution. Its availability to investors and states helps to promote international investment by providing confidence in the dispute resolution process, according to the organization.
ICSID was established in 1966 by the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States. The convention is a multilateral treaty formulated by the executive directors of the World Bank to further the bank's objective of promoting international investment.