Viet Nam has won its first international case related to investment, according to a Ministry of Justice statement released yesterday, March 4.
The plaintiff, US investor Michael McKenzie, sued the Vietnamese Government for violating the Viet Nam – US bilateral trade agreement signed in 2000. He alleged that authorities of south central Binh Thuan Province caused him damages by revoking the investment licence for his resort project.
According to the investor, Binh Thuan authorities should have granted 330ha to South Fork Company to build a tourism complex in Bac Binh District, following an investment certificate issued in 2004 by the Ministry of Planning and Investment. But the authorities licensed another company to exploit minerals on part of the land without his awareness. He asked for compensation amounting to $3.7 billion.
Vietnamese authorities said Binh Thuan issued a land granting decision in 2009, but South Fork failed to implement the project in accordance with committed progress, so the province had to reclaim the investment licence.
The Government argued that McKenzie was dishonest in the investment process, so he was not protected by the bilateral trade agreement, while Vietnamese authorities strictly conformed to international law.
The international arbitrator rejected the investor’s claims in Hong Kong in December last year, after five months settling disputes. McKenzie was asked to pay all costs Viet Nam incurred during the proceedings.
The Ministry of Justice said Vietnamese authorities were willing to talk with investors to solve difficulties and disputes.