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GMR seeks USD 1.4 billion in damages from Maldives

Singapore, Jun 21, 2013 (PTI):
GMR

Indian infrastructure major GMR today sought a compensation of USD 1.4 billion from Maldives for the "wrongful termination" of its 25-year contract to develop and operate the Male International Airport.

The claim was today filed before an Arbitration Court here and a final order in the matter is likely to come out by end of March next year.

According to sources, the papers for the claim runs into 75 pages besides various annexures and attachments.

The figure of USD 1.4 billion was reached after taking into account loss of profit, payments made to subcontractors besides others.

Sources said the arbitration process will go on and the Maldivian government along with the Maldivian Airport Company Limited, both parties in the suit, will give their responses.

The over USD 500 million airport project contract awarded to GMR for modernising and operating the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), signed in 2010 during the previous regime of Mohamed Nasheed, was "unilaterally" terminated by the current government on November 27 last year.

The airport was taken over by the Maldives Airports Company Limited after a high-voltage legal tussle in which GMR had initially got a stay order on the termination from the Singapore High Court.

However, the Singapore Supreme Court ruled on November 6, a day before the notice period expired, that Maldives has the power to take over the airport on November 6.

The abrupt termination of the contract had raised tempers between India and Maldives which had till then said it will go for an amicable solution to the airport issue.

Various political parties, all coalition members of the current regime headed by President Mohamed Waheed, had carried out a series of protests and campaigns against the Indian company.

Maldivian government's stand was that the contract was terminated because it was "void ab initio"” (invalid from the outset) and hence the government does not have to bear any compensation for the termination.

Earlier this week, Maldives' anti-graft watchdog had ruled out any corruption in the leasing of the international airport to GMR.

However, the government had said, "The report does not change the government stand that the contract given by former President Mohamed Nasheed was illegal.

"The contract was not terminated on the ground that there was corruption but because it was done against the law of the land".


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