Germany stalls Vattenfall nuclear case in World Bank court

BERLIN, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Germany has stalled a 4.4 billion euros (5.33 billion) damages claim by Sweden’s Vattenfall over the closure of two nuclear reactors by calling for the suspension of the judges on an arbitration tribunal in the United States.

“The Respondent (Germany) filed a proposal for disqualification of the three members of the tribunal,” the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) said in a Nov. 12 website entry on the case.

The case is over the enforced closure in 2011 of two of Vattenfall reactors in Germany, which the Swedish state-owned firm is entitled to pursue internationally, unlike German utilities whose reactors were also hit.

“We can confirm this move,” a spokesman for the Germany’s economy ministry said on Friday, without giving further details.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported earlier that Berlin had asked for the three judges to be suspended.

The case has is on hold until World Bank President, South Korea’s Jim Yong Kim, decides whether to rejecting Germany’s appeal or asks for new judges to be appointed, which could lengthen proceedings by years.

Prior to Germany`s move, a ruling had been expected by the end of 2018.

A Vattenfall spokeswoman declined to comment. ($1 = 0.8814 euros) (Reporting by Gernot Heller, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Alexander Smith)