"The District Court did not err in rejecting AE's (AEnergy) complaint", concludes the judgment of the US court of appeal, to which Lusa had access this Thursday, considering that "Angola has a significantly stronger interest" in "disputes relating to their government contracts".
Despite this, "the District Court reasonably concluded" that this case would require AEnergy "to face 'difficult problems of conflict of laws and the application of foreign law", it can be read in the judgment, referring to the action brought by the company, on 7 of May 2021, in the Federal Court of New York against the North American General Electric and the Angolan Government, claiming compensation of about 550 million dollars for termination of contracts.
"As discussed, the contracts in question are subject to Angolan law. The District Court correctly considered that this suggests that Angola is a superior forum," the document said.
The District Court "thus correctly concluded that in this case it does not appear that considerations of expediency favor the conduct of the case in the United States."
On May 19, 2021, the New York court declared that the case that pitted AEnergy against the Angolan government could be tried in Angola, a decision that the electricity company led by Ricardo Machado welcomed "with tranquility" announcing that it would file an appeal, now refused.
The defense of the Angolan Government and General Electric claimed, however, that New York did not have jurisdiction over the complaints made by Aenergy and asked for the annulment of the process, which was now granted by Judge John Cronan.
The magistrate accepted the argument of "forum non conveniens" (in which the court declines to exercise its jurisdiction because there is a more convenient alternative forum), but on a conditional basis, as the case will only be judged in Angola by agreement between the parties.
Speaking to Lusa, the president of Aenergy said that the company and its lawyers are "quiet", as they were already prepared for a legal war of at least five years.
"Of course, we are going to appeal. We are going to continue on several fronts and we are not going to give up on any of them, we are convinced of our cause", stated Ricardo Machado at the time, admitting that the answer would be expeditious and would arrive within the next three months.
Supporting the decision that "Angola is a suitable alternative forum", although some factors of private interest weigh in favor of the applicants (Aenergy), the judge said that there are factors of public and private interest that play strongly in favor of the annulment of the case in the New York court.
However, this is conditioned to the acceptance of all those involved so that the case is judged in Angola, reveals the document released at the time and to which Lusa also had access.
In the grounds of the decision, the judge noted that the applicants are Angolan companies whose main business headquarters are in Angola and that chose to do business in the country and with Angolan government entities.
"Typically, the courts have little sympathy for claimants – even US claimants who do business abroad and later come here to cry (USA)," the judge wrote.
"Perhaps even more revealing is the fact that, before coming to this court, Aenergy chose another forum to judge the termination of contracts with the Angolan Ministry of Energy and Water", continued John Cronan, suggesting that it was the failure in the Angolan judicial system that led the electric company to look for a new forum.
Furthermore, "seven of the 10 parties involved in this action are Angolan, the main events at the basis of this case took place in Angola, a substantial number of witnesses and a significant part of the relevant evidence are located in Angola or elsewhere abroad", added.
The case concerns 13 contracts signed between Aenergy and the Ministry of Energy and Water (Minea), in 2017, for the construction, expansion, requalification, operation and maintenance of electricity generation plants in Angola.
At stake is a civil liability lawsuit brought by the company Aenergy, owned by Portuguese businessman Ricardo Leitão Machado, and its subsidiary Combined Cycle Power Plant Soyo SA, against Minea, the Ministry of Finance, the Empresa Pública de Produção de Electricidade (ENDE) and the National Electricity Distribution Company (Prodel), called "Angola defendants" and also against three General Electric (GE) corporations, former commercial partner of the accuser.
In Aenergy's initial indictment in the Federal Court of New York, submitted on May 7 of last year, the "Angola defendants" are accused of eight crimes, including two crimes of contract termination, one of illicit enrichment, two of violation of international law (physical assets and intangible assets) and a crime of illegal expropriation.
Aenergy has been involved in litigation with Angola since the executive terminated in 2019, several contracts with the company alleging breach of trust due to alleged irregularities, accusations that the company rejects, guaranteeing to have alerted Minea and to have executed several projects without receiving payment.