Translation provided by JIGGSLAW®. Deva Villanúa, a Spanish lawyer, will chair the investment arbitral tribunal in the arbitration case involving the electronic voting software company SGO Corporation and Venezuela. This is her seventh International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration. The tribunal is completed by the American, John H. Rooney, who has been nominated by the company, and the Argentinian-Spanish, Raúl E. Vinuesa.

On March 7, 2023, the ICSID General Secretary announced the composition of the tribunal that will resolve the investment arbitration initiated by SGO in June 2022.

It is Deva Villanúa’s seventh ICSID arbitration; she has served as chair of the arbitral tribunal three times (in cases such as IBT Group vs. Panama, South32 vs. Colombia and Société Générale SA vs. Guatemala), and as chair of an annulment committee once (TECO Guatemala Holdings vs. Guatemala), and one as member of the annulment committee (Infinito Gold vs Costa Rica) and another more as co-arbitrator (Air Canada- Venezuela).

It is John H. Rooney’s second ICSID case, following the “Empresa Eléctrica del Ecuador (EMELEC) vs. Ecuador” case which was resolved in 2009.
Raúl E. Vinuesa has participated in 29 ICSID arbitrations, serving as chair in two, co-arbitrator in twenty, chair in three and counsel for one of the parties in the remainder of the cases. Some of the arbitral cases include MCI Power vs. Ecuador, Anglo American vs. Venezuela, Berkowitz vs. Costa Rica, Emilio Agustín Maffezini vs. España, and Enel Green Power vs. Ecuador.

Venezuela’s 2017 elections and the conflict with SGO.

SGO is a group of companies that develop and deploy solutions for governments, such as Smartmatic, one of the group’s companies that works on the development of electronic voting during elections.

The claim is related to the 2017 constituent assembly election process. According to the company, the Venezuelan government decided not to use certain of the electoral security solutions that had previously been used in earlier electoral processes, and as a result, some results differed from those shown in Smartmatic’s electronic system. Furthermore, the publicly disclosed rates of participation substantially exceeded those reported in the company’s system.

SGO seeks the return of the expropriated company’s assets and compensation in excess of $1.5 billion USD.

Smartmatic issued a public statement in July 2020, stating that it has been “in a legal battle against Nicolás Maduro’s government for the 2017 election fraud to the National Constituent Assembly and the company’s activities that year” (see “Smartmatic does not provide hardware, software, or anything else for Venezuelan elections,” Smartmatic, 24.07.2020).

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