UK judge denies Pakistan corruption defence in Reko Diq case.

LONDON -- Pakistan does not have the right to mount corruption allegations as a defence to challenge the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal in the Reko Diq case, a UK judge ruled this week.

In the case, Province of Balochistan v. Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), Judge Robin Knowles of the High Court of Justice rejected Balochistan's position in which it referred to a Supreme Court decision, saying it was not enough to demonstrate that the allegations of corruption had been raised before the tribunal. English arbitration law bars parties from raising issues before the court that were not raised during the arbitration, according to the decision.

The Balochistan government had argued that the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) tribunal lacked jurisdiction in the Reko Diq case as the underlying agreement was void due to corruption.

For years, Balochistan has maintained that the mining company bribed government officials to get undue advantage into securing a mining licence in the province.

Balochistan govt loses bid to fight off second claim by Tethyan Copper Company

The UK judge found that although the Supreme Court of Pakistan had rendered the joint venture void, its ruling was not based on Pakistan's allegations that the agreement was secured through bribes.

The judge said the apex court made no reference to those allegations when it found the agreement invalid.

'Descriptions of or references to corruption are insufficient: the question with which the corruption allegation is concerned is whether the Supreme Court of Pakistan found that the [agreement] and related agreements were void due to the existence of corruption,' Judge Knowles wrote.

'In my judgment, it did not. If the province has evidence relating to corruption that was not before the ICC tribunal ... then it is for the province to seek to address those matters with the arbitral tribunal; it does not make it legitimate for the province to raise them with the court as a challenge to the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal,' Judge Knowles wrote.

In 2019, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), too, had rejected Pakistan's allegation that former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani was offered a bribe of $1 million by Tethyan Copper Company in connection with Reko Diq mines in 2009.

The present case is part of the mining company's second arbitration against Pakistan. The first was before the ICSID, in which the company secured a $6...

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