In light of the definitive nature of the ICSID ruling, I trust that this story will reach an honorable conclusion with the peremptory intervention of the Italian Government in my defense through diplomatic protection, pursuant to art. 27.1 of the ICSID Convention itself, against Albania along with a formal position statement as shareholder of ENEL S.p.A. so that in this affair, after ten years, respect for the law as well as for the decisions will resume.
Failure by the Government of the Nation to intervene would confirm the "mandate", given at the time, to the Albanian Government to continue the persecution in order to execute me.
The day after the ICSID ruling, Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Balluku actually confessed that the Rama government is fighting against me not only for his country but also to help "others".
On March 29, 2023, an ICSID tribunal rejected Albania's request to review the €110 million award in favor of Francesco Becchetti.
The verdict categorically rejected the unfounded attempts by the Albanian government to contest the result, in the absence of relevant new facts.
A unanimous decision that has set one of the worst political persecutions in contemporary European history in stone.
Read in the Italian newspapers:
Read from the Global Arbitration Review:
On April 24, 2019, the ICSID International Tribunal of the World Bank, the body responsible for resolving disputes between States and foreign investors, unanimously issued an arbitration sentence, also unanimously confirmed by the ICSID Committee on April 2, 2021, which verifies the grave illegitimacy of the actions taken by the Albanian authorities against Francesco Becchetti and his entrepreneurial group, in open violation of international law.
In particular, the arbitration award concludes by affirming:
- that the decisions related to the seizure of TV Agon Channel issued by the Court of Tirana were the culmination of a political campaign carried out by Albania through the illegitimate use of its police powers against Francesco Becchetti and others;
- that the criminal investigations, initiated by the Prosecutor of Tirana against Agon Channel, were a deliberate interference with the activity of Agon Channel, motivated by Agon Channel's criticism of the Rama government, considered close to its competitors;
- that Prime Minister Rama's Secretary General (E.A.) said that if Francesco Becchetti wanted to understand why his investments were being investigated, he should speak to one of the competitors and that it was not a good idea to oppose the state;
- that there were substantial flaws underlying the allegations on which the criminal investigation was based;
- that Francesco Becchetti's investments have been expropriated in violation of article 5 of the Bilateral Treaty on the Promotion and Protection of Investments between Italy and Albania.
Given the serious non-fulfilment by the Albanian government, I have tried for a long time to obtain from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs the diplomatic protection which is due to me in accordance with the rules of international law and of our Constitution, presenting formal requests to this effect.
In the event of serious human rights violations, such as those perpetrated against me, international law leaves no margin of discretion to the State of nationality, which has the legal obligation to intervene in the diplomatic protection of its own citizen to guarantee the effective protection of his fundamental rights.
This is obtained in particular:
Despite all this the Italian Foreign Minister has, inexplicably, not even bothered to respond to my requests for diplomatic protection. Persisting, I reserve the right to summon him to the Court of Rome.
Download the documents:
In 1993, as a young and already established Italian entrepreneur engaged in the most important hydraulic works in our country, I was among the first in Europe who sensed that renewable energy would represent one of the most important businesses of the 2000s.
I focused my attention on Albania in particular, a country that had laboriously emerged from a cruel dictatorship that was striving toward the democratic values of the West and was also endowed with enormous hydroelectric potential which had not yet been developed. So, I put my vision and my entrepreneurial skills at their disposal and they believed in me and they considered me welcome there.
From 1993 to 1996 we carried out studies and checks at our expense on the entire hydroelectric potential of the country, and in particular, that of the Vjosa river while taking into account the standards of the World Bank. The hydroelectric feasibility plan of the Vjosa river that we created was compatible and innovative and after 15 years it has been confirmed by engineering giants commissioned by the World Bank.
We therefore focused our attention, first and foremost, on the construction of an initial hydroelectric plant in Kalivaç on the Vjosa river. It was 1996. To finance the work, we naturally decided to resort to project financing and therefore we needed a long-term energy off-taker. Who better than Enel, the Italian state company, which at the time, was also the monopolist for energy imports, could be interested in about 400 million kWh/y for 26 years of new renewable energy with a hypothesis of other power plants up to at 2 TWh/a along the entire Vjosa? In fact, Enel was preparing to build the Greece-Italy submarine cable. When it was clear that the energy produced by the Kalivaç plant would also have the right to the so-called Green Certificates in Italy, Enel - which needed to acquire them - declared its interest in participating in the project also as a shareholder and General Contractor. This was approved by the board of directors of Enel S.p.A. on 02.15.2000, as explained in the "price sensitive" press release of 02.24.2000, with assignment of the role of shareholder and General Contractor of the project to Enelpower, formerly Enel's internal Engineering and Construction division, which in the meantime had become a joint-stock company 100% controlled by Enel and which it took over in the agreement with BEG.
Ready to go, the CEO of Enelpower Luigi Giuffrida, in July 2000, asked me for an unjustified "increase" of 25 million euros which I peremptorily and categorically refused because it was completely unjustified. Shortly thereafter, Giuffrida and his colleagues were arrested by the Milan prosecutor's office for bribes of 25 million euros received on each of the projects that Enelpower had abroad.
Upon my refusal, Enelpower unilaterally withdrew from the project, as Giuffrida had anticipated to me. In fact, it blew up a virtuous project that would have brought important profit to Enel and therefore to Italian citizens, a great development in Albania at that time and the right response to a young entrepreneur who had worked so hard for this project.
BEG was therefore forced to initiate an arbitration against Enelpower for breach of contract, appointing Prof. GG as arbitrator. Enelpower, for its part, appointed Prof. NI, who accepted the assignment without declaring, as he should have, that he had been Vice President of Enel at the time of the start of the Kalivaç negotiations and that he represented Enel as a lawyer in Appeals Court in the Vajont case during the actual course of the arbitration, with the assignment having been received when Enelpower was the Engineering and Construction division of Enel.
When, to my amazement,I became aware of this circumstance, I immediately objected to the arbitrator Prof. NI, believing, for obvious reasons, that he could not carry out the role of independent and impartial arbitrator in a dispute which accused the company100% owned by Enel. But on the very same day, as it happens, an arbitration award was filed which had been approved by a majority with the decisive vote of Prof. NI, without even bearing the signature of the arbitrator appointed by BEG, Prof. GG. My requests for recusal were, therefore, rejected, as they were considered subsequent to the adoption of the award.
I then contested the award for nullity,firstbefore the Court of Appeal of Romeand then before the Supreme Court of Cassation. But not even the Italian jurisdictions wanted to remedy this situation. In particular, the Court of Cassation held that the award was not flawed since, although the arbitrator Prof. NI was the lawyer of Enel, the 100% controlling company of Enelpower, there was no proof of a "coincidence of interests” (!).
Then in 2012, BEG appealed to the European Court of Strasbourg to complain of the violation of the principle of independence and impartiality of a judge consecrated by art. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
After many years, and precisely on May 20, 2021, the European Court rendered its decision, which became definitive on August 20, 2021. In this decision, the reasonings of BEG were fully accepted. In fact, the Court unanimously held along with the vote of the judge elected for Italy, that Prof. NI could not fill the role of arbitrator since he had been Vice-President of Enel at the time of the launch of the negotiations for the Kalivaç project and had also been Enel's lawyer during the arbitration proceedings.According to the Court, therefore, the Italian jurisdictions failed to guarantee – as they could have and should have done – the independence and impartiality of the arbitrator, by validating an award affected by a violation of art. 6 ECHR. The Court flatly rejected the thesis asserted by the Italian Government, in the wake of internal judgments, according to which Prof. NI was a lawyer for Enel and not for its subsidiary Enelpower, by pointing out the obvious, namely that "Enelpower was at the time entirely controlled by Enel, which held 100% of its share capital” and that, moreover, “when the civil dispute began, Enelpower was still an internal division within Enel”.
The Court, for the reasons set out, condemned the Italian State for violation of the art. 6 of the ECHR, delegating to the latter identification of the most appropriate measures to implement the sentence within the internal legal system. In essence, Prof. NI could not have been an arbiter. Nonetheless, the entire Enel group has always actively defended it in every way, arguing the unsustainable, namely that Enel was not Enelpower and that, therefore, the arbitration award - adopted by a majority with the determining vote of the NI arbitrator - was fully valid! Today this position is resoundingly and definitively denied by the European Court of Human Rights, which finally, after years of battle, has verified that BEG has been the victim of an unfair decision due to an arbitrator who failed to declare their professional relationships (past and present) with one of the parties and the lack of corrective action by the Italian jurisdictions checking the validity of the award.
What I can say.
The awareness that this long battle, which has taken up at least twenty years of my life, with enormous risks to which my very existence has been and still is exposed, was useful so that other young Italian entrepreneurs might not be treated so unfairly, has me given the strength and honor to carry it forward.
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