04 de Oct de 2022

Nacional

$38M debt to Frenchman still unpaid

PANAMA. After OECD black list fears faded away, Panama could be setting itself up to join a new type of list: one of countries in non-c...

PANAMA. After OECD black list fears faded away, Panama could be setting itself up to join a new type of list: one of countries in non-compliance with international tribunal decisions.

The country still refuses to comply with the 2007 Paris First Instance Tribunal ruling, which found the Panamanian government guilty of rescinding a concession that authorized a French citizen to build the Colon bus terminal, ordering a $32.5 million compensation.

In 2002, French entrepreneur Laurent Jean Marc Parienti secured a concession to build a modern terminal from the then director Pablo Quintero Luna.

Yet 15 months later, Quintero Luna cancelled the concession and awarded it to Panamanian businessman, Gassan Salama, who was governor of Colon and very close to the Panameñista led government.

Thanks to compound interest, the amount due has escalated to $38 million, increasing by $4,000 every day of non-payment.

According to the expert in International Relations, Julio Berrios, continuing non-compliance “would not only sour relations with France, but with all of the European Union, which acts in conjunction, on top of the $4,000 daily increment for not complying with the ruling.”

Barrios holds that according to international law, Panama was obliged to participate during the Tribunal’s proceedings, but that the government decided not to follow the case through the Chancellery, ending up neither presenting a defense nor attending the court hearings.

To his judgement, the Foreign Relations Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro should be removed from his post for the “inability” to do his job.

For Panama’s Chancellor, his office’s role has simply being that of a message receptor or transmitter.

France’s ambassador to Panama, Pierre Henri Guignard, did not want to make direct comments regarding Panama’s Chancellery.

But he said that calls to implement the tribunal’s decision, which includes the fine for non-payment, will continue.