Greek Legal NewsLegal battles boil over for Skaramangas shipyard

26 Ιουλίου 20160

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Another court battle between the European Commission and the Greek state over the problematic Skaramangas shipyard may provide the impetus for resolving the equally simmering dispute between the former and the current management of the Piraeus-area industrial concern.
On Friday the Commission again referred the Greek state to the European Court for allegedly failing to implement a ruling dealing with past state subsidies to the shipyard, among the biggest in the eastern Mediterranean. Athens was obliged to seek the return of 250 million euros in state subsidies to the previously state-run company.
The first ruling by the European Court against the Greek state dates to June 2008, with the court ascertaining in 2012 that Athens had failed to comply with the ruling.
The third recourse to the court by the Commission is accompanied by a demand for a hefty fine against Greece, a one-off levy of six million euros along with a daily penalty of nearly 40,000 euros for each day that the violation continues.
Of course, the final say rests with the Euro-court justices, which over the past few years have taken into consideration the country’s dire economic situation and repeatedly reduced fines.
A full compliance with previous rulings will preclude any imposition of a daily fine. The shipyard, which comprises the center-piece of Greece’s ailing shipbuilding and repair sector, is entangled in another four-year legal battle pitting the Greek state against Privinvest, the international shipbuilding group run by French-Lebanese businessman Iskandar Safa, which manages Skaramangas. Athens is demanding a total return of 520 million euros in subsidies, fines and interest, with the Privinvest side blocking the demand through a series legal challenges and injunctions.
The latter, on its part, has petitioned for international legal arbitration – via the ICSID — to demand compensation from the Greek state of up to one billion euros. Attorneys for the Safa side claim the Greek state deceived the company, saying potential contracts were lost by the shipyards because of the prohibitions in place, ones it claims it was unaware of when signing the contract.
The tit-for-tat legal battle also includes a claim by the Greek state against the shipbuilding company, which has also been filed at the same international arbitration body. Although no figure has as yet been cited, the expected damages sought number in the billions of euros.
Athens will point to delays in delivery of German-designed submarines for the Hellenic Navy, which it charges affect national security.
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