ABIDJAN – A U.S. court has ordered the lifting of two restraining notices that had blocked a coupon payment on Congo Republic’s $363 million Eurobond amid a $1 billion legal dispute between the government and a construction firm, a court filing seen on Wednesday showed.
A payment on the bond maturing in 2029 was frozen in June after Commissions Import Export S.A. (Commisimpex) filed two restraining orders to the bond’s trustee, the Delaware Trust Company. Congolese authorities had transferred money for the payment a day before.
“The court concludes that Congo does not retain a direct interest in principal and interest payments once these monies are transmitted to Delaware Trust,” according to the filing dated Aug. 22 by a U.S. District Court in New York.
“Accordingly, the restraining notices cannot be justified on this basis.”
It was not immediately clear if the coupon payments have now been made. Congo’s Eurobond maturing in 2029 was quoted at 78 cents, having risen from 72 cents on Aug 22. The bond fell to 66 cents on 18 July.
Commisimpex won major infrastructure contracts with Congo’s government dating back to the 1980s but says it has not been paid for the works and is now owed more than 1 billion euros. It has since been seeking to recover the money through various courts in the United States, France, the UK, Belgium and Sweden.
Congo, whose economy has been battered by falling oil prices, has refused to pay the debts and says the company’s chief Mohsen Hojeij owes 1.3 billion euros ($1.55 billion) in unpaid taxes.
($1 = 0.8368 euros)
Additional reporting by Sujata Rao-Coverley; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Hugh Lawson