CAIRO: An international arbitration court ruled this week against the Egyptian government in a dispute that dates back to 1996.
The court said that the Egyptian government had violated the terms of a treaty between Italy and Egypt when it seized a resort owned by Italians near the Gulf of Aqaba near the border with Israel.
The law firm King & Spalding represented the two Italian plaintiffs, Waguih Siag and Clorinda Vecchi in their efforts to win reparations for the loss of their 161-acre resort.
The ruling orders the Egyptian government to pay $133 million in compensation.
“We are very pleased the tribunal recognized that the conduct of the Egyptian government violated virtually every protection made available to our clients as foreign investors under the bilateral investment treaty between Italy and Egypt. It is our expectation that Egypt will respect its treaty obligations to our clients based on this award, said Reginald R. Smith of King & Spalding, according to Marketwire.
The treaty that the court ruled Egypt had violated was a long-held agreement between the two countries to protect investments by Italians in Egypt.
The government seized the property in 1996 forcibly and with arms. The resort was subsequently sold to private investors.
The Egyptian government had originally taken control of the property, charging that it had been built with at least partial funding from Israelis.
Though the Egyptian government was the first Arab country to establish a peace treaty with Israel, relations between the two countries have remained strained, and business dealings have raised the ire of some in the country.
A massive dispute last year and early this year drew criticism from all sides after the Egyptian government established a deal with Israel that pumped natural gas from Egypt into the Jewish state.
It’s unclear whether or not there is precedence for this kind of rebuke from international arbitration courts, but it is a reminder to the Egyptian government that, with its myriad of trade agreements, it has to play by the rules.
“I think it signifies the importance of observing international agreements that Egypt signs, said Reham ElDesoki of Beltone Financial. “It would alert the current government to the importance of the issue, but considering that the decision was taken under a previous government, it does not really reflect negatively on this government specifically.
“The current government could try and remedy the situation by at least expediting implementation of the court decision, unless it believes the court decision is in a position to be appealed.