The Panama Canal announced today that it has already received the 547.9 million dollars that it advanced in 2009 to Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) to carry out the expansion works and an arbitration court ordered to return last week to the consortium led by the Spanish Sacyr corporation last week.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the autonomous entity that manages the interoceanic route, said in a statement that "it has successfully executed the three letters of credit issued by two local banks (...) to guarantee the payment of the initial advances granted to GUPC".
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) of Miami (United States) issued a sentence on December 12 that forces GUPC to return to the channel 847.6 million dollars that it had received as advances to carry out the works, of which 547,9 million dollars were advanced in 2009 and 299.6 million in 2014.
The administrator of the waterway, Jorge Luis Quijano, explained last week that the court determines that the advances of 2009 and their corresponding interests (13.1 million dollars) had to be paid "immediately", while another court in London must decide in the first quarter of 2019 the "exact" date of payment of the 2014 advances.
The ACP said in the statement on Monday that "it has also begun the execution of the letter of credit to guarantee the payment of the 13.1 million dollars owed by GUPC as interest on the initial advances and expects to receive during the next days the full payment".
"The Authority will continue to exercise all the legal actions and remedies within its reach for the full and prompt collection of these sums of money owed by the Contractor and its shareholders under the Contract and this arbitration trial", the note added.
Quijano clarified last week that the consortium wanted to return the advances once they were solved in other arbitration tribunals the claims for millionaires extra costs incurred during the construction of the locks, but said that that was not contemplated in the agreement and that GUPC should have returned everything in June of this year.
The GUPC consortium, integrated by Sacyr, the Italian Impregilo, the Belgian Jan de Nul and the Panamanian CUSA, was handed in 2009 the contract for the design and construction of the new locks (inaugurated in June 2016) worth 3,118 million dollars, but the final cost has turned out to be much higher.
Last July it was learned that the consortium had raised to the arbitration phase claims amounting to 5,393 million dollars (some 4,623 million euros) and of those that remained to resolve disputes worth 5,199 million dollars.
Through the Canal, built by United States at the beginning of the last century and transferred to Panama on December 31 1999, let cross close to 6 percent of world trade and connects more than 140 sea routes and 1,700 ports in 160 different countries.