Gold Reserve Inc, a small Canadian miner that lost its crown jewel in a 2009 expropriation, is targeting Venezuelan assets as it seeks to collect a $750 million arbitration award that would put new strains on the cash-strapped government’s finances.
With higher-profile cases including Exxon and ConocoPhillips mired in delays, a technicality in Gold Reserve’s case filing has allowed it to aggressively seek out new jurisdictions to execute its award.
Its actions could affect bondholders. Gold Reserve said on Monday it has served various Luxembourg banks with writs of garnishment relating to around $700 million in interest payments on Venezuelan bonds and funds. The company targeted banks seen as paying or transfer agents.
The dispute puts more pressure on President Nicolas Maduro amid mounting worries about Venezuela’s ability to service debt and stave off a potential technical default due to unpaid arbitration awards.
“We are definitely looking at other jurisdictions,” Gold Reserve’s president, Doug Belanger, told Reuters on Thursday. “Anything that’s a commercial asset of the Venezuelan government is on the table.”
He said Gold Reserve is eyeing countries with the “best jurisdiction, best law and most assets.” He declined to give further details.
The company is also engaged in legal wrangling in France, Luxembourg and the United States, with decisions expected this year, Belanger said.
Officials at Venezuela’s petroleum and mining ministry were not immediately available to comment.