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US/Austria: OPEC price-fixing battle caught in jurisdiction spat

 |  January 12, 2015

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and political activist group Freedom Watch are back in court over oil price-fixing allegations, but this time the dispute surrounds the application of US federal antitrust law to a foreign entity.

Freedom Watch filed its suit against OPEC in 2012 alleging the oil group to have conspired to illegally fix oil prices, manipulate supply and disrupt distribution in the US in violation of antitrust law.

An OPEC executive was hand-delivered a notice of the suit, but the organization says it cannot properly be given notice of the suit and, according to plaintiff legal representative Larry Klayman, “that I cannot be served under any circumstances.”

Klayman argued in court that OPEC is scoffing at US antitrust law.

”OPEC’s location outside of the United States does not shield it from liability for its illegal activities,” he wrote in a court filing. “it is well established that US antitrust laws allow for extraterritorial application and provide for the right to exercise jurisdiction over foreign conduct that affects the United States.”

His court filing added, “This court must not, respectfully, place the laws of Austria and other foreign policy considerations above the law of the United States.”

A federal appeals court has already confirmed that Freedom Watch’s notice of legal action to OPEC was not sufficient, but there is a way it could do so sufficiently and therefore move forward with the suit.

Full Content: WND

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