PDVSA Venezuela

Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA is taking steps to remove at least two American executives from the board of directors of its U.S. refining subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum Corp, according to people close to the matter.

Citgo is facing unprecedented challenges to its finances and management after the U.S. government last week imposed tough sanctions on Petroleos de Venezuela designed to prevent oil revenue from going to leftist President Nicolas Maduro. The United States and dozens of other nations have refused to recognize Maduro, viewing his reelection last year to another six-year term as fraudulent.

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Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido is setting up bank accounts with U.S. help that would take income accrued by Citgo, Venezuela’s top foreign asset, to finance an interim government. Maduro has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet who is seeking to foment a coup.

The board of Houston-based Citgo includes at least two U.S. citizens, Art Klein and Rick Esser, as well as Venezuelans Asdrubal Chavez, Frank Gygax, Nepmar Escalona, Simon Suarez and Alejandro Escarra, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

PDVSA and Citgo did not respond to requests for comment. Esser and Klein did not immediately reply to emails and phone calls seeking comment on their status.

Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido is setting up bank accounts with U.S. help that would take income accrued by Citgo, Venezuela’s top foreign asset, to finance an interim government. Maduro has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet who is seeking to foment a coup.

The board of Houston-based Citgo includes at least two U.S. citizens, Art Klein and Rick Esser, as well as Venezuelans Asdrubal Chavez, Frank Gygax, Nepmar Escalona, Simon Suarez and Alejandro Escarra, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

PDVSA and Citgo did not respond to requests for comment. Esser and Klein did not immediately reply to emails and phone calls seeking comment on their status.

Citgo, which has been owned by PDVSA for three decades, has not publicly detailed the composition of its current board since late 2017, when Asdrubal Chavez, a cousin of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, was nominated by Maduro to run the business unit.

Asdrubal Chavez, Escalona and Escarra have been working from an office in the Bahamas since the U.S. sanctions were issued, according to the sources.

On Friday, Venezuelan oil minister and PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo held a meeting with his deputy ministers and directors, one of the people said. The agenda was not revealed.

  • Reuters

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