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Puerto Rico residents have filed 2K+ bankruptcy cases since mid-March

A total of 2,081 petitions have been filed in Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy courts since Gov. Wanda Vázquez implemented the first lockdown measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, research firm Boletín de Puerto Rico revealed.

The report breaks down weekly filings, showing that the week of May 25-31 reflected the highest number of petitions, at 157 cases. That represented a 101.3% spike in comparison to the prior week, when 78 petitions were filed.

Another period with significant activity was between June 15-30, with 351 cases filed. The report does not break down the type of bankruptcy protection sought, or if they were individual or corporate petitions.

However, the research firm did a year-over-year comparison of the number of cases on record from Mar. 16 to Aug. 31, which showed that the 2,081 cases filed in 2020 were 43% less than the 3,638 petitions on record for the same period in 2019.

Looking ahead, Boletín de Puerto Rico projected — based on current trends — that a total of 5,970 cases will be filed this year, down 22% from the 7,672 cases on file at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Puerto Rico.

“These numbers are subject to change due to government decisions regarding assistance for individuals and/or businesses affected by the [pandemic-related closures,” Boletín de Puerto Rico stated in its report.

During the full month of August, the courts received 421 bankruptcy petitions, down 36.8% over the same month in 2019, when 667 cases were filed.

From January to August, a total of 3,480 bankruptcy petitions were filed in Puerto Rico, down 31.2% in comparison to the same period in 2019.

When broken down by category, Boletín de Puerto Rico’s analysis shows that Chapter 13 cases — which give individuals the chance to reorganize their finances — headed the statistics, with a total of 1,910 bankruptcy petitions filed, down 37.2% year-over-year. A total of 3,043 cases were filed in the same period in 2019.

Chapter 7 allows both individuals, corporations, or self-owned businesses to settle their debts. Simply put, it means total bankruptcy. The report shows 1,545 petitions filed from January to August, down 20.8% when compared to the 1,951 cases filed in the same period in 2019.

Chapter 11 cases, or those that allow petitioners to reorganize their finances while continuing to operate, totaled 23 for the period, down 61% from the same timeframe in 2019, when 59 filings were submitted.

Rounding out the list of categories is Chapter 12, or petitions reserved exclusively for troubled agriculture businesses. During the eight-month period in 2020, two such bankruptcy cases were filed, down 75% from the eight cases on record for the same year-ago period.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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