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Elliott seeks $670 million from Korean gov’t

May 12,2018
Elliott Associates is seeking $670 million in damages from the Korean government over a former administration’s intervention in a controversial merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015.

The Ministry of Justice on Friday published the notice of intent sent by Elliott last month, which details the size of the damages the investor is claiming and its basis for taking the Korean government to the international court of arbitration.

“Accordingly, Elliott seeks compensation for the loss and damage suffered in relation to its investment in Samsung C&T in an amount to be quantified, and currently estimated to be not less than $670 million, as well as interest, costs and other such relief as tribunal deems appropriate,” said the notice, issued by Three Crowns on behalf of Elliott.

The notice was sent on April 13 to the Justice Ministry.

A foreign investor is entitled to file a claim with the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, an international arbitration body, three months after it sends a letter of notice to the respondent state’s justice ministry.

A source at the ministry said that Elliott’s demand for financial compensation lacks sufficient quantifiable data.

“As you can see in the file, Elliott didn’t explain how the figure was calculated,” said a source at the ministry’s international legal affairs division.

The ministry added that it is working with the related government agencies - including the Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Blue House, Ministry of Strategy and Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Welfare and Health and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy - to deal with the issue.

The fund, which once held a more than 7 percent stake in Samsung C&T, has said that the merger devalued the price of Samsung’s construction unit and claimed that the merger was designed to strengthen the control of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong over the group.

The controversial merger went ahead as the state-run National Pension Service, at the time the largest shareholder of Samsung C&T, approved the deal.

Elliott believes there were irregular ties between the former Park Geun-hye administration and Samsung, as partly indicated in the massive influence peddling scandal involving the previous leader and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Elliott said the alleged intervention violates an article of the free trade agreement between the United States and Korea.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]