Spanish version

FINANCE

State to save $100 million with Finmeccanica agreement

Both sides agreed to cooperate in criminal investigations linked to the original contract.

Spanish version

Temas:

Panama will save more than $100 million with the signing of a new agreement between the government and the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica to resolve legal differences with subsidiaries Selex, AgustaWestland and Telespazio, said President Juan Carlos Varela yesterday.

The signing of the agreement was authorized yesterday by the Cabinet Council, and according to the President, occurs after two meetings with the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi.

He extolled the work of the Ambassador of Panama in Italy, Fernando Berguido, and the team of lawyers involved in the talks with Finmeccanica.

"This agreement will defend the interests of our country and correct inherited errors of the past," said Varela.

The original contract, which totaled $250 million, called for Panama to receive helicopters, a coastal radar system and a digital map. That contract was signed during the administration of Ricardo Martinelli and included a $25 million consulting fee that has been classified as a bribe by critics of the contract. 

Under the new agreement, the contract with Selex for the radars is terminated. Panama will receive a 38.8 million euro refund and a 29 million euro credit from the consortium that can be used for new equipment or for parts of the helicopters. 

Finmeccanica has also given a helicopter ambulance to Panama to be used in rescue and humanitarian work valued at 8.1 billion euros.

Panama sought to terminate the contract due to the fact that the radars did not detect the speedboats used by drug traffickers, which was the primary reason for their purchase. The Supreme Court also froze the contracts due to those irregularities and the questions surrounding the $25 million consulting fee that was to be paid to a shell company linked to Martinelli.

A number of former government officials have been charged for irregularities in the contract, including former Minister of Public Security José Raúl Mulino and former Deputy Minister Alejandro Garuz.

Panamá tiene en su poder seis helicópteros proporcionados por la empresa AgustaWestland,  en estos momentos   utilizados por el Servicio Nacional Aeronaval.

Berguido said the delivery of the helicopter ambulance was to compensate the country for the inclusion of the $25 million consulting fee in the contract, which was never paid. He said that the amount had to be returned to Panamanians in some way.

Not only will Panama receive the aircraft, but the training for pilots and maintenance for three years.

The agreement also calls for both Finmeccanica and the Panamanian government to cooperate in criminal proceedings in Panama and Italy that have emerged as a result of the contracts. 

El expresidente Ricardo Martinelli no desaprovechó oportunidad para decir que las lanchas donadas por Italia tenían un valor de $300 millones, cuando en realidad  los equipos  usados tenían un valor cercano a los 25 millones de euros.

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