In early 2019, after recognising 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 authorising the expropriation of assets belonging to the parent company of US-based Venezuelan petrochemicals retailer Citgo, calling it a “fraudulent” and “arbitrary” act.
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 stresses 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.”
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 nationalisation 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.