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Doria Media, part owner of Bechtel's Cochabamba water concession, says demand for compensation is illegal

29 August 2002

Bolivian journalist Freddy Morales interviewed Samuel Doria Medina. Doria Median, cement magnate, holder of local Burger King franchises, and former minister of state, , owns 5% of Aguas del Tunari, the company Bechtel created to manage the Cochabamba water concession.

The concession was cancelled though popular action 10 April 2000. On 25 February 2002 Bechtel filed a demand against the Bolivia with the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes of the World Bank, demanding $25 million dollars compensation.

Doria Medina explains in the interview how Bechtel has operated unilaterally and perhaps illegally in filing the claim without the knowledge or consent of the minority shareholders.

Spanish original

English translation by Tom Kruse

Este lunes, el empresario Samuel Doria Medina recordó que la asociación entre empresas nacionales y extranjeras tuvo la finalidad de llevar adelante la segunda etapa del proyecto Misicuni. "Sin embargo la empresa extranjera actuó unilateralmente en ese proyecto. Los bolivianos éramos minoría, las empresas extranjeras tenían el 80 por ciento (de las acciones) y tuvimos los resultados nefastos que son públicos". This Monday [29 July 2002] Samuel Doria Medina reiterated that the association of national and foreign companies sought to complete the second phase of the Misicuni project. "None the less, the foreign company acted unilaterally in that project. We the Bolivians were a minority, the foreign companies had 80 percent [of the shares] and we had the nefarious results that are public knowledge."
"Posteriormente, la empresa extrajera ha seguido actuando de manera unilateral, sin consultar y esa demanda de 25 millones no tiene el respaldo de los accionistas bolivianos, no ha habido reuniones, se ha pedido reuniones, se ha planificado y las han cancelado, por lo tanto todos los papeles de demanda que han presentado no tienen ningún valor legal". "Thereafter, the foreign company [Bechtel] has continued to act in a unilateral way, without consulting and the demand for 25 million dollars does not have the backing of the Bolivian shareholders, meetings have been requested, they have been scheduled and cancelled, therefore all the papers in the demand [for compensation] that have been presented have no legal value."
Dijo que los accionistas bolivianos tienen conocimiento que "hay documentos que han supuesto que los accionistas bolivianos iban a aceptar, los han presentado sin la aceptación de los accionistas bolivianos, por lo tanto, esa demanda es invalida, no puede prosperar". He noted that the Bolivian shareholders are aware that "there are documents that suppose that the Bolivian shareholders were going to accept [the demand for compensation], they were presented without the approval of the Bolivian shareholders, therefore the demand [for compensation] is invalid, it canít go forward."
Doria Medina dijo que es interesante ver cómo, en Estados Unidos, "se ha iniciado una importante campaña donde hay sectores que piden y plantean que es un absurdo que se haga este tipo de demandas a un país pobre como Bolivia de una empresa que factura mas de 10.000 millones de dólares al año". Doria Medina said that it is interesting to see how, in the US, "an important campaign has been initiated where there are sectors that ask for and suggest that it is absurd that this kind of demand be made against a poor country like Bolivia by a company that makes more than 10 billion dollars per year."
Consultado sobre si los socios bolivianos harán una representación oficial, en Estados Unidos y ante el Tribunal Arbitral del Banco Mundial, Doria Medina respondió: "Los socios bolivianos no hemos sido consultados, no hemos participado de ninguna Junta de Accionistas ni de ninguna actividad. Se planificó una reunión para el primero de mayo, con mucha anticipación se decidió esa reunión, pero dos días antes cancelaron la reunión los socios extranjeros". Asked if the Bolivian partners will make an official representation in the US before the Arbitration Tribunal of the World Bank, Doria Media responded, "The Bolivian partners have not been consulted, we have not participated in any Shareholders Meeting nor any other activity. A meeting was planed for the first of May, the meeting was decided upon with much expectation, but two days before the meeting the foreign partners cancelled the meeting."
"No hemos firmado ningún papel ni hemos acordado ninguna estrategia para ir con esa demanda adelante". "We have not signed any paper no have we agreed to any strategy to pursue this demand [for compensation]."
Respecto a si eso significa que implícitamente los socios bolivianos dan por fracasada la demanda Doria Medina señaló: "Si se han presentado papeles donde supuestamente se mencionan Juntas y hay documentos y poderes para llevar adelante el juicio y no tiene el acuerdo de los socios es incluso una ilegalidad la que se está cometiendo. Desde ese punto de vista no le veo ningún futuro a esa demanda". Regarding whether this jeans that implicitly the Bolivian partners consider the demand a failure, Doria Medina noted: "If papers have been presented in which supposed Meetings are mentioned and there are documents and powers [of attorney] to pursue this trial and they donít have the agreement of the [Bolivian] partners, then what they are doing is even illegal. From that point of view I donít see any future for this demand."

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