Panama Canal wins $193 million arbitration over payments

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PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – The head of the Panama Canal Authority said on Monday a Miami-based arbitration board rejected a demand by Spanish-led GUPC consortium for $192.8 million to cover cost overruns during the building of a third set of locks for the century-old waterway.

GUPC or Grupo Unidos por el Canal includes Sacyr SA of Spain, Impregilo [IPGIN.UL] of Italy, Jan De Nul of Belgium and Constructura Urbana of Panama.

The authority’s chief executive, Jorge Quijano, announced the ruling in a post on his Facebook page.

“We have been informed that we have won a major arbitration dealing with the expansion of the canal by the GUPC contractor for $192.8 million,” Quijano wrote in a post.

A spokesperson for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said it was not authorized to provide a copy of the ruling, and the arbitration tribunal with the Miami-based International Chamber of Commerce did not respond to a request for the ruling.

A local public relations firm that works with GUPC said that the consortium had no immediate comment.

The GUPC consortium’s request for a delay in the case and its demand for $192.8 million from the canal authority were both rejected by the arbitration panel, the authority said in a statement.

The consortium that had argued the canal authority should compensate it for costs associated with temporary water infrastructure it built on the Pacific entrance of the canal.

The canal authority said in the statement the arbitration panel has ordered GUPC to pay more than $22 million for the authority’s expenses associated with the arbitration, as well as $900,000 in additional reimbursements.

The $5.4 billion expansion of the Panama Canal was completed in June 2016.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Cynthia Osterman