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Citgo, the U.S. unit of Venezuela’s PDVSA, has removed from their positions four top executives as the battle for control over the company between the Maduro government and the opposition, led by Juan Guaido, heats up.
Reuters quotes unnamed sources as saying the executives who were removed were close to the Venezuelan President. The move is part of the opposition’s attempt to seize control over the profitable business. Earlier this month, Guaido said he and his interim government were preparing a whole new board of directors for Citgo as well as for PDVSA.
All of the executives who were removed from their positions are Venezuelans, one of them a cousin of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Meanwhile, the families of the so-called Citgo Six—company executives jailed in Venezuela two years ago on allegations of corruption—have spoken up, saying their relatives were held in overcrowded conditions.
The executives, including then-president Jose Angel Pereira, were accused of embezzlement after they proposed to refinance about US$4 billion in Citgo-issued debt by using a 50-percent stake in the company as collateral.
According to one Citgo employee, as quoted by the Daily Mail, the families of the jailed executives received no support from the company despite terms in their contracts stipulating they had the right to such support.
Citgo is the eight-largest refining company in the United States, accounting for about 4 percent of the national refining capacity. It is also, understandably, the largest buyer of Venezuelan crude oil in the United States.
The company was swept into the political chaos reigning in Venezuela after Juan Guaido, President of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, declared himself interim president saying the latest elections that saw Maduro win a second term in office rigged and calling for a new vote. Guaido has received the support of the U.S., Canada, most South American countries, and the EU.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.