The Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States, Carlos Vecchio; the President of the Energy and Petroleum Commission of the National Assembly, Elias Mata; the Special Prosecutor of Venezuela, Dr. Enrique Sánchez Falcón and the director of litigation of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Pedro Jedlicka; offered a balance of the actions taken by the Interim Government of President Juan Guaidó for the preservation of Venezuelan assets, stating that “the timely actions taken by Guaidó as of 2019, with the support of the United States, have so far allowed CITGO to be preserved from the supreme risk to which Maduro exposed the PDVSA subsidiary.”
Ambassador Vecchio stressed that the strategy of the Interim Government to preserve CITGO from the serious risk in which it has been placed by Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship has focused on ensuring that protection measures are obtained from different instances of the United States Government to protect CITGO from the moment that President Juan Guaidó legitimately assumed the presidency of Venezuela and, simultaneously, the timely legal actions brought before the District Court of Delaware, with the central argument that CITGO and the Republic of Venezuela are distinct legal figures, i.e. no alter ego applies.
“This case was lost by Nicolas Maduro, and the Interim Government of President Guaidó has so far managed to preserve Citgo. Maduro never became part of the trial generating a measure of embargo on our assets, he had illegally negotiated an agreement with Crystallex behind the back of the National Assembly and the country, orchestrated a plan to liquidate and sell Citgo. But in 2019 Juan Guaidó assumed the presidency and with the support of the U.S. Government, in support of the actions of the Republic, we have protected and preserved the most important asset for the upcoming recovery of Venezuela, but the risk remains”.
He explained that this protection has been possible thanks to executive orders issued by the administration of President Donald Trump, through the OFAC of the Department of the Treasury, as well as by statements presented by the same OFAC, the Department of State and the Department of Justice before the District Court of Delaware, which strengthen and support the work of professionals from the Special Prosecutor’s Office of Venezuela and the Embassy in the United States, who have articulated the defense process.
“We thank the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, Eliott Abrams, for all his support to our work. The United States has made it clear to the judge that the protection and preservation of CITGO is even a matter of National Security for the United States,” Vecchio said.
The recently appointed Special Prosecutor, Dr. Enrique Sánchez Falcón, highlighted the “excellent work and pertinent actions carried out by Ambassador Carlos Vecchio and the team of former Special Prosecutor, José Ignacio Hernández, to ensure that CITGO continues to belong to the Venezuelan people.”
A problem generated and inherited from Chávez and Maduro
The President of the Energy and Petroleum Commission of the National Assembly, Elias Mata, recalled that it was the regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro that generated the risk still present today over CITGO and other assets.
“From the beginning there were doubts about the illegality of the contract signed with Crystallex, and then there was the expropriation of the mine of Las Cristinas, which motivated Crystallex’s international actions demanding compensation of at least $1200 million. Nicolás Maduro did not exercise any defense against these actions, neither in the ICSID award, nor in a Court in Washington DC. Then Crystallex initiates a trial in the Delaware Court, where there are no proceedings by Maduro and consequently, in 2018 Crystallex obtains a lien against Citgo. It was Nicolas Maduro who lost Citgo at that time, when the lien was issued.
Mata added that “Maduro then made an obscure negotiation with Crystallex where the Canadian company was paid over $400 million. The legitimate National Assembly declared for the country the nullity of these illegitimate and undercover negotiations”.
Ambassador Vecchio pointed out that, in addition to the cause with Crystallex, “Maduro generated the issue, without the approval of the National Assembly, of PDVSA 2020 bonds, placing CITGO as a guarantee for the bondholders. As if that were not enough, Maduro also gave CITGO as a guarantee for loans contracted with Russia, without the endorsement of parliament. Our main overseas asset was put at risk by Maduro on every aspect, but as of 2019 we have managed to obtain from the U.S. all OFAC licenses that so far protect CITGO from all those creditors. This has not happened on its own, it is the result of concrete actions by the administration of President (e) Guaidó.”
Congressman Mata recalled that “all these illegitimate negotiations carried out by the dictatorship have been annulled by the National Assembly since (the moment) they were carried out with their backs turned to the nation and the Venezuelan people.
Sly deal on the making
Vecchio and Mata denounced an ongoing plan by sectors affected by Maduro’s regime, which is being presented as a false opposition, to affect the policy of recovery, protection and preservation of assets being carried out by the National Assembly and the interim government of President Guaidó.
“The same people who lent themselves to electoral fraud in 2018 and allowed Maduro to usurp power, the same people who today meet with the regime and endorse a new electoral fraud in Venezuela, now carry out actions in international bodies and introduce documents in the trial before the Delaware Court, playing into the hands of the dictatorship so that CITGO will be lost, as has always been their strategy. You can see the seams because of all of the propaganda of the regime, of Jorge Arreaza and of Gorrin’s criminal Globovision is what peddles their lies,” Vecchio said.
Congressman Mata urged “not to listen to those voices that are telling lies. From the National Assembly, we have witnessed that everything that has been done to protect CITGO from the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the Venezuelan Embassy, with the support of the United States, has been the right thing to do. Those who promote electoral fraud also want us to lose the assets that will be key to the next stage of Venezuela’s economic and social recovery and reactivation.”
Willingness to honor legitimate commitments
The authorities of the Interim Government, the National Assembly and the Special Prosecutor’s Office sent a very clear message to investors and creditors of the Republic of Venezuela: “we want to honor our commitments, as long as they have been legitimately acquired,” Vecchio said.
Pedro Jedlicka, Litigation Director of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, said “we want to convey all the confidence to the creditors of the Venezuelan State. We want to recover all the nation’s assets and advance a process of restructuring our debt to comply with legitimate obligations, as soon as the transition is completed”.
Congressman Mata added “Nobody has said that we do not want to pay, what we have said and it is in the agreements approved by the National Assembly is that the legitimate debt contracted by the Republic will be paid and this merits a timely process of review and verification of each obligation contracted. Not all the 150 billion dollars generated by Chávez and Maduro is legal or legitimate”.