United States District Court, D. Columbia.
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For BELIZE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT LIMITED, Petitioner: Joseph S. Hall, Kenneth Chris Todd, LEAD ATTORNEYS, KELLOGG, HUBER, HANSEN, TODD, EVANS & FIGEL, PLLC, Washington, DC; Dana C. MacGrath, Louis B. Kimmelman, PRO HAC VICE, SIDLEY AUSTIN, LLP, New York, NY.
For GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE, Respondent: Creighton R. Magid, LEAD ATTORNEY, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP, Washington, DC; Juan C. Basombrio, PRO HAC VICE, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP, Costa Mesa, CA.
RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.
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Petitioner Belize Social Development Limited (" petitioner" or " BSDL" ) brings this action against respondent the Government of Belize (" respondent" or " GOB" ), seeking the confirmation and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award pursuant to § 207 of the Federal Arbitration Act (" FAA" ), 9 U.S.C. § 207, and Article III of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (" New York Convention" or " N.Y. Conv." ). Before the Court are petitioner's Petition to Confirm Arbitration Award
and to Enter Judgment [Dkt. #1] and respondent's Motion to Stay Action or, in the Alternative, Dismiss Petition [Dkt. #15]. Upon consideration of the pleadings, relevant law, and the entire record, the petition to confirm and enter judgment is GRANTED, and the motion to stay or dismiss is DENIED.
A. Accommodation Agreements
On September 19, 2005, respondent GOB and Belize Telecommunications Limited (" BTL" ) entered into the first of four " Government Telecommunications Accommodation Agreement[s] . . . to improve telecommunications for the people of Belize and better accommodate the GOB's telecommunications needs." Pet'r's Mem. of Points and Authorities in Supp. of Pet. to Confirm Arb. Award & Enter J. (" Pet'r's Mem." ) at 2 [Dkt. #1-1]; Resp't's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Stay Action or, in the Alt., Dismiss Pet. (" Resp't's Mem." ) at 5-6 [Dkt. #15]. As part of the agreements (hereinafter, " original agreements" ), BTL would acquire certain properties owned by GOB for 19,200,000 Belize dollars. Pet'r's Mem. at 2. In exchange, GOB would give BTL preferential tax treatment, exempt BTL from import duties on goods and equipment, guarantee BTL a minimum rate of return on investments, pay any shortfall that may occur between the minimum rate of return and the actual rate of return, and allow BTL to control the use of " Voice Over Internet Protocol." Id. ; see also Pet. to Confirm Arb. Award & Enter J., Ex. A (" Final Award" or " LCIA Award" ) at 20-23 [Dkt. #1-3] (explaining class license holders and their customers were not permitted to use voice over internet protocol services unless permitted by the individual license holder (BTL)).
The Accommodation Agreements also contained a clause which provided that any dispute would be referred to and resolved by arbitration under the London Court of International Arbitration (" LCIA" ) Rules. Pet'r's Mem. at 4. Over the next few years, the parties amended the original agreement three times and on May 29, 2007, under the third agreement, Belize Telemedia Limited (" Telemedia" ) " assumed all of BTL's rights and obligations under the Accommodation Agreement." Id. at 3.
On February 8, 2008, Dean Barrow was appointed the new Prime Minister of Belize and his administration refused to acknowledge Telemedia's rights as set forth in the Accommodation Agreements or to comply with its obligations under the agreements. Id. at 5. Telemedia, on the other hand, complied with its obligations under the Accommodation Agreements by purchasing GOB properties for 19,200,000 Belize dollars. Id.
B. Arbitration Proceedings in the LCIA
Telemedia submitted a request for arbitration to the LCIA on May 9, 2008, claiming multiple breaches of the Accommodation Agreements. Pet'r's Mem. at 6. The LCIA appointed a Tribunal comprised of three distinguished arbitrators to govern the arbitration proceedings. Id. at 7. GOB refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings, id. at 8; Resp't's Prelim. Resp. at 6, and on March 18, 2009, following
a three day evidentiary hearing, " the Tribunal unanimously ruled in favor of Telemedia and issued its Final Award," which granted Telemedia both declaratory and monetary relief, Pet'r's Mem. at 8; Resp't's Mem. at 8. The Tribunal found that: (i) the Accommodation Agreements are legal and binding under Belize law, (ii) " GOB . . . violated numerous provisions of the Accommodation Agreement[s]," and (iii) " Telemedia was entitled to relief." Pet'r's Mem. at 9.
Two days after the Tribunal issued its Final Award, on March 20, 2009, BSDL was created in the British Virgin Islands. Resp't's Prelim. Resp. at 7. That same day, Telemedia assigned to BSDL the monetary portion of the Tribunal's Final Award, id. at 7-8, thereby allowing BSDL " to enforce and ...