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The U.S. Department of Treasury has blocked any attempts by PDVSA compensation claimants and creditors to get their hands on the Venezuelan company’s U.S. subsidiary, banning all moves to “transfer or otherwise alter or affect property.”
Reuters quoted the Treasury as saying that exceptions would be made only for parties with a special license. This pretty much pours cold water on the plans of at least one company to get what the court awarded it in one of several nationalization lawsuits against Venezuela’s government.
Canadian miner Crystallex was awarded $1.4 billion in compensation for the nationalization of its Venezuelan assets and has repeatedly tried to seize PDVSA assets to enforce the court’s decision, but without any luck.
The most attractive among these assets is, of course, Citgo, but the company is incorporated in the United States and its assets now seem to be at the disposal of the Venezuelan opposition with Washington’s blessing as it increases the pressure on PDVSA and the Maduro government by freezing its assets in the United States and setting up a new account for Venezuelan crude import payments.
At the same time, however, PDVSA had pledged half of Citgo as collateral for a loan Rosneft extended to the troubled Venezuelan state company. This fact raised hackles in Washington at the time the deal was struck, but the worry that a Russian company could become owner of Citgo soon dissipated thanks to a number of mechanisms to prevent that from happening.
The other half of Citgo’s shares are also unavailable to compensation claimants: these were put up as collateral for a bond that matures next year. The Venezuelan government has been unable to make the latest payment on this bond because of U.S. sanctions and U.S.-backed Guaido does not have the funds to make such a payment.
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.