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Luis Dodero is vice president and general counsel of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), part of the World Bank Group. Describe your department. We are 10 lawyers, two of them working as consultants, and five administrative staff. We don’t use paralegals, mainly because we don’t deal with procedural issues or litigation. The consultants do research work, among other things, but they are fully qualified lawyers. One notable feature of our staff is that they come from so many different countries: Argentina, France, Greece, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the United States. All my staff are extremely dedicated to our goals, and I am very lucky to have their full support. What does your agency do? MIGA was created 18 years ago with the objective to encourage the flow of foreign private investment to developing countries. The mission of the World Bank Group is to eliminate poverty in the world; we believe that the private sector is a key element of achieving this goal. Developing countries have two main obstacles to attracting foreign investment. The first is the perception of political risks by the prospective investor — for example, the investment could be expropriated, transfer of profits out of the country may be restricted, a war may destroy the investment or interrupt the business, or the government may cancel or modify the concession agreement. The second obstacle is an unsatisfactory foreign investment climate — for example, cumbersome procedures for approving the investment, courts that are not perceived to be neutral, denial of access to a fair dispute resolution system, or existence of pending disputes with other investors. To remove these obstacles — or at least mitigate the unfavorable perceptions of prospective investors — MIGA provides long-term guarantees (up to 20 years) against political risks to investors in developing countries and helps countries improve their foreign investment climate. If an investor is covered under a contract of guarantee and one of these risks takes place (i.e., the investment is expropriated without payment of compensation, or if it is destroyed by a war, etc.), we pay the investor compensation for the loss suffered. MIGA’s shareholders can only be countries that are members of the World Bank. At present, 160 countries have joined MIGA, and their representatives constitute the board of directors. In the 13 years since MIGA began operations, we have facilitated more than $40 billion in direct investments, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs and other benefits for a large number of poor countries. How did you come to the job? I came to MIGA as the first vice president and general counsel more than 13 years ago. When a headhunter contacted me about the position, I was general counsel of CESCE, the Spanish Official Credit and Investment Insurer (the equivalent of a combination of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export/Import Bank of the United States). What are your more pressing issues right now? What’s in those folders piling up on your desk? I deal with most legal matters faced by the agency. (There are some exceptions, such as labor issues, which my colleagues in the Bank’s legal department handle.) My regular duties include: clearing contracts of guarantee, once they have been negotiated by my lawyers; negotiating agreements with the governments of our developing member countries that will facilitate the issuance of guarantees; supervising the legal assessments of the host countries prepared by the lawyers; advising countries on the necessary steps to become members of MIGA; attending board meetings and making sure that proposals submitted to the board meet all legal requirements; discussing with my staff all matters relating to eligibility of projects for issuing guarantees; negotiating with governments the amicable resolution of disputes involving private investors (mediation); chairing the Claims Committee, which makes all decisions concerning acceptance and payment of claims; and conducting recovery actions once we have paid a claim. I travel a lot, especially to developing countries, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to meet some of the most interesting people in the world (although sometimes controversial), such as Yasser Arafat, Hugo Chavez, and other well-known leaders. I also know most ministers of finance of the developing world, their attorneys general, and supreme court members. Sometimes I have the opportunity to meet with the poorest people of the world, and feel proud that some of them escaped poverty by finding a job in one of the investment projects we helped to materialize. The number of folders piling on my desk is so large that I use two desks, one of them for the sole purpose of holding these papers. Sometimes a few square feet of the floor also play this function. Most of these files constitute reading material, memos, articles, books, etc., that I promise myself to read as soon as I have a minute because they relate to my activities in MIGA. Every so often, an important paper finds its way in there. Luckily, my assistant manages to organize the pile while I am traveling.

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