CARACAS, Venezuela – The defunct government of former Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó owes $20.7 million to a group of US law firms that handled litigation on its behalf, according to a report published by Reuters on Friday.
The litigation involved creditors seeking to recover debts for defaults on bonds and nationalizations carried out under the socialist regime of Hugo Chávez more than 15 years ago.
The last democratically elected institution in Venezuela, the Interaction of the National Assembly in 2015, established the interim government of Juan Guaidó and named him president in 2019, with a mandate to hold free and fair elections. The Venezuelan constitution allows the National Assembly to dissolve the executive and replace it with an interim institution in the event of a “breakdown in the democratic order”. Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro triggered the use of the constitutional provision by refusing to step down at the end of his presidential term in 2019, clinging to power in a rigged election held in 2018.
The interim government – which had received international recognition from the United States, Canada, the European Union and 50 other countries – had been tasked with ousting Maduro and restoring democracy to Venezuela. To that end, he was granted custody of Venezuela’s frozen assets abroad, keeping them out of reach of Maduro’s socialist regime.
Initially, the caretaker government was meant to be short-lived, with the intention of dissolving it after the Maduro regime was ousted and democracy restored. Having failed to restore order, the caretaker government saw its validity renewed every year until the opposition-led members of the National Assembly who had originally established it vote to dissolve it in December, leaving Maduro’s illegitimate regime as the sole unchallenged ruler in Venezuela.
The Reuters report said that during its tenure, the caretaker government hired eight law firms to handle litigation with a group of companies and bondholders to negotiate the large debt the South American nation owes them. must. According to documents reviewed by Reuters, debts amount to more than $60 billion due to Hugo Chávez’s socialist nationalization spree and defaulted bonds of the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
One such case, according to Reuters, sought to cancel PDVSA’s 2020 bonds, for which Venezuela’s socialist regime used as collateral a majority state of PDVSA’s Houston-based subsidiary Citgo. The United States banned all transactions involving the defaulted bonds and placed Citgo under creditor protection with a final license renewed in January 2022. This license is scheduled to expire on January 20, 2023.
A few weeks before the dissolution of the interim government, Juan Guaidó expressed to hope that the United States would renew the license that protects Citgo.
The Reuters report also claimed Venezuela’s interim government paid $30 million to the law firms between October 2020 and October 2022, but still owed $20.7 million for their services. Documents reviewed by Reuters also reportedly indicate that failure to pursue legal action would put Venezuela at risk of losing said overseas assets.
The Biden administration is no more recognize Guaidó’s interim government. As such, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury Posted a new license on Monday to authorize transactions with the opposition-led National Assembly and allow it to control Venezuela’s frozen foreign assets in the United States.
Following the dissolution of Guaidó’s interim government, the opposition-led National Assembly, now headed by exiled MP Dinorah Figuera, insisted that the assets are not in danger and will be kept out of reach of the Maduro regime.
will figure declared In an online press conference Monday, “there is a will to honor our commitments,” saying the committee that will oversee the custody of the nation’s frozen assets will repay its debts to U.S. law firms. will also appear claims that the National Assembly still does not know the real status of the assets that were in the custody of the now dissolved government of Guaidó.
“We are not aware of many actions because the accounts have not been presented. We are waiting for them because the caretaker government, which has ended its functions, has said that they will be held accountable,” Figuera said.
The Maduro Diet Posted arrest warrants on Monday for the arrest of Figuera and the new vice presidents of the National Assembly, Marianela Fernández and Auristela Vásquez, charging them with the crimes of usurpation of office, treason, money laundering and conspiracy. Fernández and Figuera currently live in exile in Spain, while Vásquez currently resides in the United States.
The socialist regime’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, also announced that he had asked Interpol to issue “red notices” for their arrest. “We will see what the governments of these countries [Spain and the United States] do with our demands,” Saab said.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.