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Israeli investors seek damages from Hungary in international arbitration court, Hungary

Israeli investors seek damages from Hungary in international arbitration court

10 November 2013

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), in Washington, DC, will hear a case by Israeli investors seeking more than 100 billion forints (EUR 337m) in damages from the state of Hungary because of a failed casino investment, daily Magyar Nemzet said on its website on Saturday.

Vigotop, owned by Ronald Lauder and managed by Joav Blum, is seeking the damages under an international investment protection agreement between Hungary and Cyprus, where the company is registered, said.

The case will start on Monday and last for two weeks. The Israeli investors will testify in person at the hearings. Earlier testimony by former prime minister Gordon Bajnai as well as written testimony by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany could also be used.

Former finance minister Peter Oszko and former staff of Investment and Trade Development Hungary ITDH will give testimony in person on the side of the state.

The plans to build a casino and resort on Lake Velence (W Hungary) for more than 1 billion euro were derailed after a land swap involving the site — that took place before Hungary’s current government came to power — was put under scrutiny. The Kuria, Hungary’s supreme court, declared the contract on the exchange of farm land for prime lakefront property null and void a year ago.

Commenting on the Magyar Nemzet report, the spokeswoman for governing Fidesz said that, sadly, it came as no surprise that Hungary’s two former prime ministers would testify abroad against their own country. Gabriella Selmeczi said neither had put the interest of the Hungarian state and the Hungarian people first, either in government or in opposition.

“It’s no wonder that they are serving foreign interests now,” she added.