A federal judge in the District of Columbia has sided with a pair of Spanish shareholders in an arbitration dispute against Venezuela. The years-long fight has netted millions in legal fees for attorneys with Covington & Burling, and it’s another notch against the politically-fraught country as its international investors seek to collect assets kept in other jurisdictions.  

The long-running dispute started with a 2010 expropriation decree under then-president Hugo Chávez where in Venezuela sought to restructure companies linked to Valores Mundiales and Consorcio Andino, Spanish shareholders of Venezuelan grain production companies Gruma SAB de CV. The investors were awarded nearly half a billion dollars in 2017 following an International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID, tribunal review of the taking. That ruling, issued Monday, found Venezuela acted improperly and arbitrarily in its appointing of special administrators to supervise and control the companies.