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Tribunal orders Panama canal construction group to pay back $848 million

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By Reuters
Tribunal orders Panama canal construction group to pay back $848 million
FILE PHOTO: An employee works on the new set of locks at the expansion project of the Panama Canal on the pacific side in Panama City November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo   -   Copyright  Carlos Jasso(Reuters)

PANAMACITY (Reuters) – The Panama Canal Authority said on Wednesday that an arbitration tribunal has ordered the construction consortium behind the waterway’s expansion to pay back nearly $848 million (672.43 million pounds) to the canal authority.

The ruling from the Miami-based tribunal, part of the International Chamber of Commerce, stems from a protracted dispute between the authority and a group of builders led by Spain’s Sacyr and Italy’s Salini Impregilo.

Under the dispute were cost overruns related to the construction of a third set of locks for the waterway, which was completed in 2016.

The canal authority said the sum of nearly $848 million accounted for advances that had been granted to the consortium, called GUPC, or Grupo Unidos por el Canal. The entity includes Belgium’s Jan De Nul and Panama’s Constructura Urbana.

Last year, the tribunal had rejected a demand by GUPC for $192.8 million to cover cost overruns.

The consortium and tribunal could not be immediately reached for comments.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Sandra Maler and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)