May 17, 2020
Dhaka University Central Students Union Law and Politics Review (DUCSU LPR) organised a webinar titled ‘The NIKO Arbitration 2020: Political & Judicial Antecedent and Aftermath’ on 16 May 2020. Nasrul Hamid, MP, the Honorable State Minister of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was present as the Chair of the webinar. Barrister Moin Ghani, Counsel for Petrobangla and BAPEX, and Dr Rumana Islam, Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka were present as panellists.
DUCSU LPR is a Student Edited Journal administered by DUCSU which began its journey on September 2019. It aims at providing the students, academicians and practitioners from home and abroad a common platform of academic writing emphasizing on law, politics, policy discourse and governance.
In the webinar, Nasrul Hamid, MP said that, “There are some interesting interviews available online conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the involvement of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Tarek Zia and Mamun. There were also instances of notable conflicts of interest which were discovered during the investigation. The Canadian Court has accepted this and so has the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). We may not be able to receive the compensation we had hoped for, but as a result of going there, the proof of corruption has been found. Since the ICSID knows it, this evidence is now known to the whole world.” He further mentioned about the attempts that were made then to involve the Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina in this case. However, failing to substantiate the charges of corruption, the charges did not stand.
Professor Dr Rumana Islam highly appreciated the fact that the lacking at the ICSID have been recognized and admitted by the State Minister. Given that we now have the political will, Bangladesh will not be stepped over by foreign investor companies.
Barrister Moin Ghani recalled, “Being directed to gather evidence from wherever it is needed was particularly inspiring for us. We believed that we were working in the right direction. Without it, this result could not have been achieved.” When questioned as to how Bangladesh could realize these damages, he explained that, the damage caused by NIKO exceeds 1 billion USD, which is without taking environmental damage into account. From that, 30 million USD that was owed to NIKO will be set-off. Although NIKO has not officially filed for bankruptcy, there is less hope of recovering the total damages because NIKO does not have the resources to pay it; they are in effect bankrupt. It has already sold all its assets in India and then tried to do the same in Bangladesh. However, in mid-2014, the ICSID barred NIKO from doing so without the permission of the government, until the settlement of a lawsuit.
The event was hosted by Shahrima Tanjina Arni, International Affairs Secretary, DUCSU and Md. Azhar Uddin Bhuiyan, Editor-in-Chief, DUCSU Law and Politics Review.
Tanveer Ahmed Fahim is a 4th Year student at the Department of Law, University of Dhaka.