U.S. to Consider Citgo Shares Sale Next Year in Blow to Guaido
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will consider authorizing the sale of Citgo Petroleum Corp. shares early next year, after the mandate of the Venezuela opposition government ends, according to a court document.
The U.S. Treasury said it may reasses the sale of shares of Citgo’s parent company, PDV Holding Inc., after the term for the opposition-led National Assembly “ends in January 2022,” according to a Sept. 10 letter to creditor Crystallex that was included in a federal court case in Delaware.
Crystallex, which had a Venezuelan gold mine expropriated, has a claim against PDV Holding. However, the U.S. has so far blocked the sale of shares while it recognizes the opposition, led by Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s legitimate government.
Crystallex can re-apply for a U.S. Treasury license “at a later time if the foreign policy considerations change,” according to the letter. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, will reasses the company’s application “during the first half of 2022 as warranted by changed circumstances,” according to the letter.
A representative for the Treasury Department declined to comment Wednesday evening. A State Department spokesperson did not immediately reply for comment.
In a statement, Crystallex Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman Robert Fung said the company will ask the government to reconsider its application early next year.
“We remain open to discussing an amicable solution that is commercially reasonable and mindful of the rights of Crystallex, interests of the Venezuelan people, and U.S. policy objectives,” he said in the statement.
A spokesman for Guaido said the U.S. has “fully acknowledged Guaido’s government,” adding that the leadership of the National Assembly “will remain until Venezuelans have an elected president in a free, fair and transparent vote, as indicated in our Constitution.”
Guaido rose to prominence in 2019 when he claimed he was the legitimate leader as president of the democratically elected National Assembly. He was quickly recognized by the U.S. and other foreign governments. However, the assembly’s term, already extended by one year, expires in January.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the opposition, including representatives from Guaido’s party, are holding negotiations aimed at ending a political standoff. The sides are discussing how to manage international assets, such as Citgo, as part of those talks.
“Whatever the ultimate outcome of those negotiations, the impending expiration of the National Assembly’s mandate -— and the termination of Guaido’s authority as interim president in a few months -- is a virtual certainty,” Crystallex wrote in a letter to the court.
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