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Inter-American Investment Corporation Must Schedule Release of Evidence in Vila Case

Bea Edwards, June 10, 2010

The District Court for the District of Columbia has set an Initial Scheduling Conference for July 15, 2010 for the claim filed by Jorge Vila, an independent banking consultant in emerging markets, against the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the private sector lending arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to submit the schedules for the documentary and witness evidence to be presented by the IIC and Vila at the trial, expected to take place later this year.

Vila sued the IIC in October 2006, claiming that the IIC repeatedly requested, received and benefited from his services from January to August 2003, but then refused to compensate him. Court papers show that Vila was given broad authority to negotiate on behalf of the IIC with clients and potential co-financiers the terms and conditions of IIC loans. He was also asked to participate in internal project and credit discussions, as well as in external negotiations with clients and counterparts, and drafted internal and external IIC documentation for the signature of IIC senior management.

 

This case is receiving increasing attention from governments, the media and other observers of international organizations, since the Court decisions already handed down represent a judicial precedent, and, at the trial, the focus is expected to be on the internal controls and audits, transparency and accountability of the IIC and the IDB, in addition to their relationship with external contractors.

The IIC claimed immunity under the International Organizations Immunities Act, but, in a significant series of judicial setbacks for the IIC, several District Court and Court of Appeals decisions from February 2008 to October 2009 unanimously confirmed that the IIC is not immune to claims from independent contractors like Vila.

The International Organizations Immunities Act has been subject to growing criticism in recent years, as, among other things, it deprives the staff members of these organizations of access to an impartial judiciary forum in labour disputes.

The law firm of Arnold & Porter is representing the IIC, whereas Douglas Hartnett of Elitok and Hartnett, is representing Mr Vila.

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Beatrice Edwards is International Program Director of the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization.