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Macau S.A.R and Hong Kong S.A.R:
Today Lao Holdings, and its wholly owned subsidiary Sanum Investment Ltd., launched a website called www.shameonlaos.com. The site contains information concerning treaty claims filed against the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to stop the alleged illegal taking of an investment worth at least US$400 million by the Government of Lao, as well as the Government’s cancellation of permits for projects that would have been worth hundreds of millions more.
“We want people to see the questionable conduct in which the Lao Government has been engaged. We’re not just concerned about what this conduct has meant for our many employees and us. We worry about what it means for the treatment of foreign direct investment (http://shameonlaos.com/the-issue/) in Laos generally, which the country and its people so badly need,” said Jody Jordahl, President of Sanum.
“We invite people who are outraged or disappointed by this news to contact the ministries involved and tell them how they feel about it.”
Jordahl continued: “We invested in good faith in the Lao DPR. We believed the government when it said it would uphold the rule of law. We established one of the largest businesses in Laos and created thousands of jobs for the Lao people. As we became more successful, they moved in to take it from us. This is a simple case of a government breaking its promise to protect foreign investors against greed and exploitation. If they can do this to us, they can do it to any direct foreign investment.”
Sanum Investment Ltd. was enticed to invest in the Lao DPR on the basis of the government’s promises of a safe and stable economic and legal environment, where foreign investments were promised protection and security through steadfast adherence by local officials to the rule of law. Its investment of over US$85 million in capital began five years ago. Had the Government not changed its treatment of Sanum, that investment should be worth more than US$500 million today.
The forum for these claims is international arbitration, under investment protection treaties signed by Laos for the benefit of foreign investors. The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, an independent arm of the World Bank, will administer the Lao Holdings case. The Sanum Investment case will be handled by an ad hoc tribunal as provided under the applicable treaty. Both tribunals will be composed of three arbitrators, who are authorized to issue binding damages awards against offending countries.