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Chavez says Venezuela won't recognize decision of World Bank-affiliated arbitration body
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) ' Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his government should pull out of a World Bank-affiliated arbitration body and won't recognize its decisions.
Exxon Mobil Corp. is one of more than a dozen companies with arbitration cases against Venezuela pending before the World Bank-affiliated International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID.
Chavez announced his decision while referring to a more than $900 million award that Exxon Mobil recently won in another arbitration case before the International Chamber of Commerce.
"Now they're threatening us in the ICSID," Chavez said on his Sunday television show. "We have to get out of that ICSID. And I'll go ahead and say it: We won't recognize any of ICSID's decisions."
Exxon Mobil sought arbitration after Chavez's government nationalized an oil project in the country in 2007. The Irving, Texas-based oil company did not immediately respond to Chavez's latest announcement.
The ICSID's website lists 17 pending cases against Venezuela. They include claims by Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips Co., U.S. glass container manufacturer Owens-Illinois Inc. and Toronto-based mining company Crystallex International Corp.
The Caracas-based consulting firm Ecoanalitica estimated recently, before the latest Exxon Mobil decision, that the bulk of the government's nationalizations involved more than $33.7 billion in assets, including about $23 billion in outstanding obligations.
Venezuela has reached negotiated agreements after taking over the operations of other companies such as Swiss cement maker Holcim and Mexican cement company Cemex SAB.
Decisions in the arbitration cases could put major financial pressures on Chavez's government.