Akin Gump aids battle to make Iraq pay Saddam-era debts

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has been appointed by South Korean giant Hyundai Engineering & Construction to fight its case for Iraq to pay for $1.1bn (£6.6m) of construction work undertaken during the Ba’ath regime.

Saddam Hussein’s government never paid for the work and Hyundai is now seeking to bring other Korean corporate creditors, with combined outstanding bills of $1.7bn (£1bn), into the negotiating group.

Three Akin Gump lawyers, all former officials at the US Treasury Department, have been assigned to Hyundai’s case, but their position looks bleak. The US Government is adamant that Iraq’s resources and the aid it is receiving will not go to pay foreign creditors.

Hyundai has already turned to the courts. It won a judgment in the US and is now seeking $860m (£518m) plus interest through a British court. However, the United Nations has protected Iraqi assets from such court orders until 2007.