Viewing cable 06PANAMA1104

06PANAMA11042006-06-08 12:38:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Panama

DE RUEHZP #1104/01 1591238
R 081238Z JUN 06
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: A. STATE 60294 
     ¶B. 2005PANAMA01458 
¶1.  Below is Embassy Panama's input for the Congressionally 
mandated annual report on investment disputes as 
contemplated in Section 527 of the FY 94-95 Foreign 
Relations Authorization Act.  Text is keyed to reftel. 
The United States is aware of four claims of United States 
citizens that may be outstanding against the Government of 
Panama.  Post has included five claims listed in Ref B 
which have since been resolved. 
Energy Sector 
¶1. Last update:  27 April 2006 
a.    Claimant A 
b.    1999 and 2000 
c.    Following the 1998 energy market privatization, 
Claimant A, an electricity generator, assumed existing 
contracts between government power generation entities and 
private distributors.  When energy spot prices fell below 
the contract prices, the Energy Regulatory Commission 
(ENTE) unilaterally altered the contracts between the 
generation and the distribution companies (December 1999). 
Claimant A estimates damages of $9 million USD.  Claimant A 
has 16 court cases (filed in 2000 and completed since 2003) 
waiting ruling by the Panamanian Supreme Court. 
POST ACTION:  Post is seeking to reinstitute the bilateral 
investment dispute committee with the Ministry of Economy 
and Finance (MEF) and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce 
(MICI) to provide a general forum for resolution of 
disputes which remain unactioned by the Panamanian 
Judiciary.  In the case of Claimant A, however, Post has 
not received the requisite advocacy questionnaire and does 
not plan any further advocacy until this is received. 
Claimant A is also waiting the return of $1.5 million in 
tariffs improperly collected on imported machinery.  (Then) 
Minister Daniel Delgado applied Law 6 favorable to Claimant 
A in a letter for (then) Customs Director Villalaz 
confirming Claimant A's exemption from said tariffs.  On 
October 23, 2003, the (then) Controller requested formal 
notice of Claimant A's request for return of the improperly 
levied tariffs.  This formal notification was sent on May 
19th, 2004.  In October 2005, Claimant A notified Embassy 
that rather than refund the tariff, the GOP was pursuing 
back tariff payments for others in the Energy Sector who 
had received the applicable exemptions.  This was confirmed 
by other U.S. electric companies operating in Panama.  The 
Tax Office (DGI) has not followed up to collect back tariff 
payments but neither have they officially retracted the 
POST ACTION:  Claimant A requested no further advocacy be 
taken on this matter at this time. 
¶2.  Last update:  October 2005 
a.    Claimant B 
b.    1998 
c.    Claimant B alleges it paid an inflated price 
for its electricity concession during the privatization of 
the Panamanian electricity sector because the GOP knowingly 
withheld and misrepresented pertinent data.  A subsequent 
report by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) 
confirmed Claimant B's interpretation of events.  Claimant 
B filed for arbitration of this matter in Miami in 2002 and 
received a 2-1 verdict in favor of the GOP in December 
POST ACTION:  Claimant B was purchased by a non-U.S. 
citizen investor in October 2005.  Post considers this 
dispute closed. 
¶3.  Last update: 11 October 2005 
a.    Claimant C 
b.    2005 
c.    In 1998, Claimant C invested $11 million in a 
Panamanian energy company's equity and arranged for the 
company to receive a bank bridge loan for $17 million for 
conversion to bonds.  Claimant C alleges that both the 
stock and bond investments are subject to equal value tax 
credits under 1995 Law #28.  In March of 2005, the 
Vice-Minister of Finance notified Claimant C's legal 
counsel that the sale of any of the original $11 million in 
stock enjoys no tax benefits.  Claimant C has taken the 
matter to arbitration under the U.S. - Panama Bilateral 
POST ACTION:  None, pending outcome of arbitration. 
Communication Sector 
¶4.  Last update:  17 April 2006 
a.    Claimant D 
b.    2002 
c.    In 1999, the Panamanian Postal Service (COTEL) 
insisted that Claimant D qualified only as a "courier" and 
violated Panama's constitution by providing physical 
mailboxes.  GOP Executive Decree 135 (April 15, 2004) 
allowed Claimant D to operate fully including the provision 
of physical mailboxes with the payment of additional fees. 
However, the additional fees made Claimant D's business 
operation unviable. 
In May 2005, the GOP issued Executive Decree 314 abolishing 
Decree 135 and reiterating the GOP's exclusive right to 
provide postal services.  In April 2006, GOP issued 
Executive Decree 88 reestablishing the right for companies 
to offer premium postal services. 
POST ACTION:  Post has met with Claimant D and the relevant 
GOP authorities throughout the dispute.  The most recent 
legislation allows Claimant D to operate fully with a 
competitive cost structure.  However, the decree leaves 
open the possibility of further GOP intervention contrary 
to Claimant D's interest.  Until such a time that this 
occurs, Post considers this dispute closed. 
Maritime Sector 
¶5.  Last update:  3 May 2006 
a.    Claimant E 
b.    1999 
c.    Note:  Claimant E's original disputes as 
described in Ref B does not constitute an investment 
dispute as defined in paragraph 4 of Ref A.  Nonetheless, 
Claimant E's dispute regarding the acquisition of land 
adjacent to its current site in Colon (the waterfront) was 
resolved in June 2005 when this land was officially 
included in Claimant E's concession. 
POST ACTION:  Post considers this dispute closed. 
¶6.   Last update:  24 January 2006 
a.    Claimant F 
b.    1997 
c.    The current Director of Panama's Maritime 
Authority (AMP) is reviewing the proposed amendments to 
this clients original 1997 concession at the request of the 
Controller.  The Director is concerned that the amendments 
are too generous and well beyond the original damage 
suffered by Claimant F when some of its assets were awarded 
the Panama Ports Company.  The AMP Deputy Director believes 
the damages suffered by Claimant F to be equal to the 
approximately $2.4 million USD that Claimant F has withheld 
in payments to the GOP.  Claimant F contends that an 
additional 10 years on the concession is owed and continues 
to seek resolution through international arbitration. 
POST ACTION:  Claimant F was sold to a non-U.S. citizen 
investor in January 2006.  Post considers this dispute 
¶7.  Last update:  20 April 2006 
a.    Claimant G 
b.    2003 
c.    On January 18, 2003 the Panama Canal Authority 
(ACP) began refusing entry of boats to Claimant G's boat 
club facility.  Claimant G contends the ACP must compensate 
the club for improvements made to the leased facility. 
Claimant G alleges the value of improvements made to the 
facility at $1 million USD and lost revenue of $200,000 
POST ACTION:  Claimant G reincorporated as a Panamanian 
non-profit organization in 2000 and has occupied its 
original location rent free since that time.  Claimant G 
does not have a legal basis for its compensation claim nor 
continued occupancy on its current site.  This land became 
the property of the ACP upon the expiration of the Panama 
Canal Treaty on December 31, 1999 and has had ample time to 
locate an alternate site and relocate its assets.  No Post 
action pending at this time. 
¶8.  Last update:  June 2004 
a.    Claimant H 
b.    2002 
c.    In 2003, the AMP requested that Claimant H move 
from its current location and informally communicated an 
offer of $750,000 USD.  An appeal regarding the amount of 
the compensation was pending as of June 2004. 
POST ACTION:  No assistance has been requested from the 
Embassy since 2004.  Post considers this dispute closed. 
Property Disputes 
¶9.  Last update:  3 May 2006 
a.    Claimant I 
b.    1999 
c.    Claimant I owns the only private property in 
the former Canal Zone which was purchased in 1921 and held 
continuously since then.  The GOP claims that this property 
is in now Panama federal property claiming the Canal Treaty 
of 1977 contains no special remarks, but Senator Dole 
entered into the record a letter from GOP recognizing 
Claimant I's property rights.  The Ministry of Economy and 
Finance (MEF) has done a valuation and agrees that Claimant 
I is owed compensation for its property. 
POST ACTION:  Emboffs are continuing to follow up with the 
AMP to assist with the resolution of the pending claim. 
List of Claimants: 
Claimant A: Bahia Las Minas (BLM) 
Claimant B: Constellation Power/Electra Norests 
Claimant C: Corporacion Panamena de Energia, S.A. 
Note: Claimant C is 70% owned by U.S. controlled 
companies Unisource Energy Corporation (Nations) and 
Electric Machinery Enterprises Inc. (EME). 
Claimant D: Mailboxes, Etc. (MBE) 
Claimant E: Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) 
Claimant F: Braswell Shipyards 
Claimant G: Pedro Miguel Boat Club 
Claimant H: Panama Canal Yacht Club 
Claimant I: Sojourners Lodge of the Ancient and Free