In early 2019, after recognizing Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido as the country’s self-proclaimed ‘president’, Washington froze tens of billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets abroad, including those of state oil giant PDVSA. Caracas accused the US of plundering its wealth, and of trying to overthrow the democratically-elected government.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has blasted the ruling by a US judge authorizing the expropriation of assets belonging to the parent company of US-based Venezuelan petrochemicals retailer Citgo, calling it a “fraudulent” and “arbitrary” act.
“Venezuela vigorously rejects the infamous decision of Delaware court regarding our US PDVSA subsidiary, Citgo. The arbitrary decision is nothing more than a fresh act of aggression by the dying government of Donald Trump against the noble Venezuelan people,” Arreaza tweeted, accompanying the tweet with a more detailed communique.
Separately, in an appearance on Venezuelan TV, Arreaza suggested that Juan Guaido and the Venezuelan opposition, who gained de facto control of Citgo last year after Washington slapped sanctions on PDVSA, have used their control of the company to “facilitate” the theft of Venezuelan assets by “foreign powers.”
The communique issued by the foreign ministry stressed that Caracas “denounces and categorically rejects” Washington’s actions, as well as its “collusion” with “Venezuelan extremists” and “puppets” to commit “transnational crimes in order to appropriate the assets of Venezuela and its entities throughout the world.”
“The sole purpose of these actions was to provide legal cover to the criminal handover of assets belonging to Venezuela to the government of Donald Trump, a group of business connected to him and to the Venezuelan extremists who lent themselves to undertake one of the most serious attacks ever undertaken against the Republic,” the statement alleged.
Caracas also warned the international community about the dangers of doing business with and making investments in the United States, given the example of the illegal unilateral actions undertaken against the Venezuelan company by the US court.
On Thursday, Delaware US District Judge Leonard Stark approved the expropriation of $1.4 billion in shares belonging to Citgo parent company PDV Holding Inc, owned by PDVSA, to Canadian gold miner Crystallex, notwithstanding Treasury Department restrictions against such actions.
“Each day that Crystallex does not recover on its judgement is arguably something of an affront to the United States judicial system. Those days must soon come to an end,” Stark said in his judgement. Crystallex asked Stark to rule on the $1.4 billion arbitral award last year, following a decade-long dispute over Caracas’ 2008 nationalization of a gold mine belonging to the company. Seeking to avoid losing the assets, Venezuela’s opposition tried to have the ruling thrown out or delayed.