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US extends protection for Citgo from PDVSA creditors until October

Jul 20 (.) – The United States on Tuesday extended a measure that protects the Venezuelan-owned US refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp from bondholders seeking a stake in the company to collect the unpaid debts of state oil company PDVSA. owner of Citgo. Holders of PDVSA’s 2020 bond, which is backed by a majority stake in Citgo’s parent company, will not be able to exercise rights to that guarantee until October 21, according to a new license issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). , for its acronym in English) of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is in charge of overseeing US sanctions. The government of now ex-president Donald Trump issued the measure that protects Citgo after recognizing the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaidó, as the legitimate president of Venezuela, an attempt by Washington to evict the head of state Nicolás Maduro from office, indicated for committing human rights abuses and manipulating his re-election in 2018. Maduro denies such accusations and labels Guaidó as an American puppet seeking to overthrow him. The president remains in power despite sanctions and diplomatic pressure, thanks to the support of the armed forces of the South American country and allies such as Russia, China and Cuba. As part of that campaign, Washington blacklisted Petróleos de Venezuela SA, and transferred control of Citgo to Guaidó.

Current US President Joe Biden has maintained Washington’s recognition of Guaido, although officials have said his administration is reviewing various sanctions. “We thank the Biden administration for maintaining the suspension of the license … to strengthen the protection of Citgo,” Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó envoy to Washington, wrote on Twitter. Guaido’s allies are also questioning the validity of the 2020 bonds in a US court.

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While an initial ruling found the bonds valid, the opposition appealed the decision and in December obtained a court order prohibiting creditors from seizing Citgo shares until the appeal is resolved.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo and Vivian Sequera)

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