09 May, 2011

Investor Arbitration Case Filed Against Oman, By: Dustin Ensinger

Little-known by most and virtually ignored by others, the U.S.-Oman free trade agreement is garnering the attention of at least one American.

A Boston businessman is set to file the first-ever investment arbitration case under the bilateral trade pact.

Adel A Hamadi Al Tamimi, owner of two mining companies, claims that his investment in two limestone mining operations in the country was irreparably harmed due to government interference in the project.

His claim states that he was given the go-ahead to start mining operations in 2007. However, shortly thereafter, the Omani government began filing formal complaints against the operation.

Two years ago, his mining operation was shut down by the government and he was arrested. He was charged with the theft of rocks and sand and violations of environmental regulations.

In June 2010, he was acquitted of all charges, but not before his mining operation was confiscated and sold off.

The land was taken back by the government, the equipment was sold to competitors and workers were dispersed.

“Tamimi has started the process of availing himself of the right afforded to foreign investors under the FTA to pursue his claims through international arbitration,” his lawyer said in a press release.

“The FTA requires the United States and Oman each to afford certain protections to investors of the other. These include protections against unlawful expropriation, nationality-based discrimination, and unfair and inequitable treatment.”

Under the agreement, both sides will have 90 days to sit down and reach an agreement. If no compromise is reached in that time, the case moves on to an international arbitrator, who will then make a final ruling on the matter.

"It is regrettable that Oman has thus far been unwilling to provide reasonable compensation to Mr. Al Tamimi via negotiation and that we are now forced to pursue his rights as an American investor under international law by taking the first step toward arbitration," said Mr. Al Tamimi's counsel, Arif Hyder Ali, the head of Crowell & Moring's International Arbitration Group, "We look forward to Mr. Al Tamimi being fully compensated for the damages he has suffered as a result of Oman's actions."

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