World Bank: Venezuela must pay Conoco more than $8 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — A World Bank arbitration panel ruled on Friday that Venezuela must pay U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips more than $8 billion as compensation for a decade-old expropriation dispute.

The bank's ICSID tribunal had ruled in 2013 that the 2007 expropriation of ConocoPhillips investments in two heavy crude oil projects violated international law.

"We welcome the ICSID tribunal's decision, which upholds the principle that governments cannot unlawfully expropriate private investments without paying compensation," said Kelly B. Rose, senior vice president, Legal, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of ConocoPhillips.

The law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, which represented Venezuela before the panel, did not immediately respond a request for comment.

Collecting the money may be difficult as the Venezuelan economy has shunk more than half since 2013 and sanctions by the Trump administration barring U.S investors from lending money to the government complicate President Nicolas Maduro maneuvering.

Venezuela faces around 20 arbitration cases at the World Bank, more than any other country in the world, with potential losses stretching into the billions.

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Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo