Guinea vs. Russia : Caveat Emptor


I don’t know why I’m so fixated on this but I just am – the FT is carrying the latest in the Guinea expropriate-the-expropriator saga. Amidst all the back-and-forth on taxes, rights, payments, “causes for concern”, “worrying trends” and the rest of it, what I find most compelling is this simple single sentence from Rusal, as quoted in the FT:

“We have no doubt that we are the legal owner and we are going to prove it.”

Let’s back up for a moment. These are two nations who each have demonstrated a certain nonchalance – and that’s putting it diplomatically – when it comes to rule of law, transparency and due process, among other things. What, then, can Rusal or Mr. Deripaska possibly mean by using the word “legal” to describe ownership?

Is this not akin to asking a three-card monte dealer to honor his bet on a loss?

Ok, with that out of the way, Rusal is now threatening to take this to Paris for international arbitration, where it expects to be taken seriously. 

You know what? Rather than sit here and harrumph about double standards, why don’t I just put the question out to you all: Can anyone suitably and reasonably defend Rusal’s stance here given what is already known about a) Guinea b) Rusal and c) international arbitration norms?