A French court has upheld a ruling ordering Guinea to settle the unpaid invoices of the Israeli businessman’s company AD Trade for the supply of equipment for an intelligence unit for Alpha Conde.
In a ruling dated 13 April, the Paris Court of Appeal has rejected the Guinean state’s appeal against a 22 November 2017 arbitration decision in favour of AD Trade Belgium.
At the time, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris had ordered Guinea to pay the company – a subsidiary of military brokers AD Consultants owned by Israeli businessman Gaby Peretz – more than €45m for non-payment of invoices related to the Leopard contract. The latter, concluded on 11 January 2011 between the Guinean Ministry of Defence and AD Trade, provided for the supply of surveillance and interception equipment as well services related to the setting up of the intelligence unit of President Alpha Condé, sworn in in December 2010. Another contract, Panthère, covered the supply of equipment and services for the protection of the president’s private residence and palace.
Guinea however terminated the contracts a few months later and failed to pay a number of invoices, leading to the initiation of an arbitration procedure on 8 October 2015 by AD Trade before the ICC (see our sister publication . This resulted in the November 2017 decision, against which the Guinean state, represented by lawyers Michael Ostrove and Mamadou Gacko of DLA Piper, then filed an appeal for annulment in May 2018.
To justify its request, Conakry put forward the argument that the equipment supplied was subject to the European Union (EU) embargo on the supply of arms and related materials to Guinea, enacted in October 2009 following the violent military crackdown on demonstations by the opposition and civil society. Guinea was led by a military junta headed by Moussa Dadis Camara between 2008 and 2009. AD Trade’s lawyers, Cédric Fischer and Margaux Compagnon from Fischer, Tandeau de Marsac, Sur & Associés law firm, responded that Guinea has not voiced its concern over the embargo before the arbitration body. Moreover, an expert opinion requested by AD Trade concluded that the equipment delivered was not prohibited under the EU embargo.
Guinea also explained that the contract had not been approved by the Guinean Ministry of Finance, even though its public procurement code required it to do so. It also denounced the fact that the principle of adversarial proceedings had not been respected on several points. The court rejected these arguments.
The Guinean state can still choose to appeal against this judgment. Contacted by Africa Intelligence, its lawyers did not wish to comment on this matter.
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