APM Terminals (APMT) has agreed to pay US$43m in compensation to the Guatemalan government after the company inherited a concession which was allegedly obtained through bribery.
The concession to operate Quetzal Container Terminal (TCQ) was awarded to Spanish company Grup TCB in 2013. The concession was then inherited by APMT when the company bought all the shares in Grup TCB in March 2016.
In April 2016, the terminal’s director Juan Jose Suarez Meseguer and Grup TCB’s former majority shareholder Angel Perez Maura Garcia-Botin were both accused, by an alleged former accomplice, of using bribery to obtain the concession.
Since then, there has been discussion around whether the concession would be taken away from APMT and, if so, whether they would be awarded any compensation.
On 26 July though, Guatemalan newspaper El Periodico reported that APMT had agreed to pay US$43m in compensation to the government and to sign a new concession contract to operate the terminal.
Part of the deal is that APMT will commit to setting up a US$6m container control system using X-ray machines. This is to address fears that terminal is being used by criminals for money laundering and other illegal activities. These fears led to the government taking over the operations of the terminal in June 2016.
The deal has been agreed between APMT and the auditor of TCQ, Alexander Aizenstatd, but has yet to be approved by the Guatemalan Congress.
APM Terminals are co-operating with the investigation into alleged bribery and had no involvement in the terminal at the time it was alleged to have taken place.