CARACAS, March 4 (Reuters) - A New York district court on Wednesday rejected Venezuela’s bid to reduce interest on a $1.6 billion award that an international tribunal had ordered it to pay Exxon Mobil Corp in compensation for nationalizations.
The decision is a setback for the South American OPEC country that has also sought revisions to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes’ (ICSID) decision, in addition to its outright annulment.
“The judgment shall continue to accrue interest at the rate that the ICSID award specified: 3.25 percent compounded annually, until Venezuela has made payment in full,” District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer ordered, denying Venezuela’s motion.
Cash-strapped Venezuela has been facing over 20 major arbitration awards, most stemming from high-profile nationalizations under the polarizing late socialist president Hugo Chavez.
Delays to the enforcement of the latest hefty arbitration award grant the government of his successor Nicolas Maduro some breathing room as it struggles with a tumble in oil prices, arrears with private companies, debt payments, and campaigns for this year’s parliamentary election.
The government did not immediately respond to requests for comments. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Bernard Orr)