Qatar asks US court to force Eritrea to pay $300 million debt

Source: Doha News

QNB asks US court to order Eritrea to pay $300 million debt

Officials at the Eritrean embassy in London locked one of the Qatari bank’s lawyers in the building to hinder the delivery of court documents in 2018.

Qatar National Bank QPSC [QNB] asked a Washington, D.C. court to order Eritrea to pay about $300 million of debt after the Horn of Africa nation refused to respond to two lawsuits filed by the lender, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Eritrea borrowed $200 from the Middle East’s largest lender in 2009 and 2010 and only returned $45 of the amount in May 2012 without returning the remaining amount.

The bank later sought legal recourse in the UK in 2018 per the loan agreement, and a year later, a judge ordered Eritrea to pay its creditor $254 million in addition to interest. Eritrea stopped responding to lawyers.

This prompted QNB to request a judgement by default from a US federal court on Friday after filing a complaint in the same US legal body in February, saying that President Isaias Afwerki’s government, who has ruled the country for 28 years, allegedly avoided being served with legal documents.

QNB said that Eritrea’s debt has now risen to $295.3 million, which is equivalent to more than 10% of the African nation’s $2.3 billion gross domestic product [gdp].

Avoiding legal action

QNB alleges that Eritrea has not been responsive with court rulings and chose not to defend itself in both the UK and US cases, while responding to lawyers with hostility.

The bank said in the court filings that staff at the Eritrean embassy in London even locked one of the bank’s lawyers in the diplomatic building until he agreed to leave without handing the court documents.

Another representative was also “physically assaulted” as a receptionist threw the court papers on the embassy’s pavement, after which a British judge allowed the documents to be sent via email or post.

“The receptionist physically knocked the documents out of a process server’s hands and threw them on the pavement outside the embassy’s front door,” read the bank’s complaint.

Among the documents filed by QNB was a letter sent in March 2009 by Eritrea’s Afwerki, in which he stated his commitment to repaying the loan to the Qatari bank through tax revenue and income from the Bisha mine, a gold-copper-zinc project currently run by China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. that entered production ten years ago.

Bloomberg said the legal dispute can lead to the discouragement of investments in Asmara, which already stands as the second last economy out of 190 others in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.

The Washington court’s decision would enable QNB identify and seize Eritrea’s overseas assets.

8 comments

  1. In 2018 and after the above incident at the Eritrean Embassy in London some one called and told me what happened. We laughed for a couple of minutes thinking it was a sick joke. Then we both realised we were talking of a regime that frankly has no sense of the rule of law or simple human decency nor integrity. Sadly, the Eritrean culture of pride, honesty and integrity buried along with thousands of its innocent civilians in the hands of a leader who feels he can do whatever and wherever he likes with impunity.

    Let’s wish QNB all the good wishes in securing its money back. But as a word of advice stay away from Eritrean Embassies. Use recorded tracker posts and you have the evidence without the hassle.

  2. What came of the “good old values” during the struggle era that the regime supporters crow about? It was a total fiction! In this real estate, everyone had been swindled and extorted since its creation and beyond.

  3. Does anyone knows why the loan was taken in the first place? We been hearing for the last 28 years that Eritrea was free of debits.

  4. These selfish and corrupt Arab nations are all worth it. By default they cooperate with any rogue nation without any clue on what they want to achieve. They are part of the rotten world that includes Ethiopia under Abiy, Eritrea, UAE, Qatar, Saudi, Iran which is not an Arab nation, Russia, China, North Korea, Philippines, and some more.
    It is unfortunate these centers of hell on earth are allowed to function and destroy the lives of so many people in this world with impunity.
    Trump was taking the USA to join this club. Biden, even if he is a good person, he is a coward and without any decision power like Trump. I had hoped he would be in the forefront of the good world, but I got it wrong. He is toothless and old.

  5. What is happening to the revenue from the mine that the Chinese are working on? I won’t be surprised that they have now taken over and the Eritrean govt is helpless against them

  6. We, the Eritrean people, ask Qatar to re-think about its past actions and engagement with the Isaias government. And re-consider compensating the Eritrean people for damages inflicted by the Isaias group for the last 30 years because of Qatar’s funds enabled Isaias’ government to stay in power and enslave the people.

    1. If QNB can’t get their money back, they should at least expose how much private overseas assets the regime has. And it can show how much more of a corrupt and fraudulent regime that they already are.

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