February 9, 2024

Willkie has recently secured a victory for the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in an UNCITRAL investment arbitration opposing Kazakhstan’s national gas company, QazaqGaz. 

In an award issued on January 30, the arbitral tribunal dismissed all claims against Kyrgyzstan under the Kyrgyz-Kazakh Bilateral Investment Treaty, the Energy Charter Treaty and the Kyrgyzstan’s 2003 Investment Law. The dispute related to a joint venture to renovate and operate the Kyrgyz portion of the Tashkent-Bishkek-Almaty gas pipeline. 

In the arbitration, which QazaqGaz initiated back in 2020, it was asking for USD 31.9 million in damages, alleging that Kyrgyzstan had expropriated its investments in the joint venture. The claim was later reduced to USD 11.1 million. The arbitration was seated in Paris and was one of very few investment arbitrations conducted entirely in the Russian language. 

Willkie has acted as counsel to the Kyrgyz Republic in most of its investment arbitrations since 2019 and achieved multiple arbitration victories for the Republic, including against British Virgin Islands entity Penwell in 2021, in which the tribunal dismissed the entirety of Penwell’s USD 298 million claim against Kyrgyzstan on admissibility grounds. Willkie also assisted Kyrgyzstan in successfully defeating in late 2023 a USD 49.9 million claim by a Kazakh state-owned company called the National Center on Complex Processing of Mineral Raw Materials. 

The Willkie team is led by partner Grégoire Bertrou and counsel Sergey Alekhin and includes senior associate Dmitry Bayandin and associate Melnik Aglaya in Paris.