The law firm B. Cremades & Asociados, on behalf of the Spanish company Comercializadora Mediterránea de Viviendas, S.L. (formerly Marina d’Or-Loger), has filed a request for arbitration before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Kingdom of Morocco for a claim of more than €400 million.
Marina d’Or participated in Morocco’s 2004 initiative to decongest overcrowded urban centres through the creation of newly built satellite towns. This initiative was applauded by the international community and received the backing of both the World Bank and the European Union. This initiative also attracted real estate investment. Spanish society became involved in the construction of two large real estate complexes:
The first is the so-called “New City of Tamesna” on the outskirts of Rabat, which the Moroccan state would provide with all the necessary facilities and infrastructure to enable the new city, which would be connected to Rabat by motorway, train and other necessary transport services. In fact, part of the campus of the University of Rabat would be transferred to the “New City of Tamesna”. Marina d’Or would recoup its investment through the sale of the real estate complexes built. The Moroccan government’s failure to provide the facilities and infrastructure, together with the modification of the city’s urban planning, has meant that the idyllic new city is now reduced to a few isolated buildings, which do not even have a rubbish collection service, surrounded by illegal street markets.
Marina d’Or had also agreed with the Moroccan public administration to build another real estate complex called “La Perla de Tangier” in the city of Tangier. This investment was also designed to be sold to third parties, the construction is being financed by the sale of the new properties to the new residents. During the implementation of this project, the Spanish investor was the victim of an administrative blockage resulting from internal conflicts between the Moroccan authorities, acknowledged by the Moroccan Court of Auditors itself in its special report of 2014, which has resulted in the irretrievable and total loss of the planned investment.
The dispute has been dragging on for years without resolution. Prior to filing the request for arbitration, Marina d’Or has tried to negotiate with the Moroccan government a way out of its investments in the “New City of Tamesna” and “La Perla de Tangier” without success. All negotiations with the Moroccan Government have been futile and frustrated by the Moroccan authorities involved.
Bernardo Cremades Jr., partner of the law firm B. Cremades & Asociados, has spoken out forcefully on the matter, stating that “in Morocco, there are worrying violations of Spanish investments”. For his part, Jesús Ger García, founder and president of Marina d’Or, has also expressed his indignation toward the Moroccan authorities for the treatment received by his company and investments.
The request for arbitration is based on the investment protection guarantees established in the Bilateral Treaty for the Promotion and Protection of Investments signed between Spain and Morocco on 11 December 1997, which includes an international arbitration clause before the ICSID. With this request for arbitration, and thanks to the international investment protection system, Marina d’Or has the possibility of going to an international arbitration tribunal to obtain fair compensation for the loss of its investments, which would otherwise be practically unfeasible. The eventual award issued by the arbitration tribunal is binding on the Kingdom of Morocco.