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Federal judge orders US to explain lack of ports takeover investigation

[JURIST] US Federal District Court Judge Jose Linares, presiding over a lawsuit by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey [JURIST report] to block United Arab Emirates [government website]-owned Dubai Ports World [corporate website] from taking over the management of six major US seaport facilities including New Jersey's Port Newark, issued an order Friday asking federal officials to explain why the government did not carry out a full investigation into the deal and why New Jersey officials were not given the same documents and information that federal officials used to approve the deal. The suit arose after DP World announced a takeover of British-owned P&O [corporate website], the current ports operator, and New Jersey officials raised security concerns. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Wednesday and the judge said he would issue a preliminary injunction blocking the sale if Washington's responses were unsatisfactory. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine [official profile] has invited [Corzine letter] the governors of states with ports affected by the deal - Louisiana, New York, Florida, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania - to join the lawsuit. Reuters has more.

In Washington, in an effort to forestall potential legislative action blocking the deal, congressional leaders meanwhile working with company officials and the White House on a compromise proposal which they hope will allay security concerns. Potential proposals include a review of the deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States [US Treasury backgrounder] or a new, intensive 45-day review of the deal by the government. Last week, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) [official website] said that the Bush administration was ignoring federal law [JURIST report] by refusing to extend its investigation into the transaction. AP has more.

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