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Canadian miner Crystallex has asked a federal U.S. judge to allow it to take control over PDVSA’s U.S. business, Citgo, after Venezuela failed, according to the company, to make a settlement payment. The payment was awarded to Crystallex by an international arbitration court in 2016. The court said Caracas should pay the miner US$1.2 billion, after the Chavez government seized control of Crystallex’ license for a gold mine in the country.
According to the Canadian company, it was forced to declare bankruptcy after the nationalization of the Las Christinas deposit. This August, a U.S. district court authorized Crystallex to seize Venezuelan assets as payment under the US$1.2-billion court-awarded compensation. Venezuela last month finally agreed to settle the dispute.
Caracas pledged to pay Crystallex US$25 million by the end of November and another US$15 million by the end of the year. Caracas also said it would pay another US$400 million by the end of 2020. However, Crystallex says it has not yet received any payments.
However, Venezuela has insisted that Citgo—and PDVSA—have nothing to do with the dispute as the state energy company and the state itself are different entities, and the litigation Crystallex initiated had as defendant the latter but not the former.
Crystallex, which has gotten the farthest in its attempts to receive some compensation for the nationalization of assets in Venezuela, is losing patience, apparently, and is now arguing that there is ample evidence that PDVSA and the state of Venezuela are in fact one and the same thing. Some of the evidence that the Canadian company offered the court was tweets by PDVSA containing the hashtag #PDVSAesVenezuela, meaning PDVSA is Venezuela.
PDVSA’s lawyer has insisted that the state oil company was not a party to the arbitration process that ended with the court awarding the US$1.2 billion in compensation to Crystallex.
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.