Saturday, April 8, 2017
US Congress Calls for Investigation of Venezuela's PDVSA - Russia's Rosneft Deal Over Citgo in USA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After an investigation by the Latin American Herald Tribune and testimony by LAHT editor Russ Dallen before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 28, Chairman Jeff Duncan and Ranking Member Albio Sires of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere today called on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to give immediate attention to a potential threat to critical U.S. energy infrastructure as a result of a recent asset transfer between Venezuela’s PDVSA and Russia’s Rosneft of PDVSA’s U.S.-based subsidiary Citgo.
“The United States has a clear national interest in achieving energy independence," said Chairman Duncan, of the bipartisan call for a CFIUS investigation. "The recent loan agreement between Russia and Venezuela involving Citgo refineries, pipelines, and terminals presents a clear threat to U.S. energy security."
"Given the uncertain economic and political situation in Venezuela, I am deeply concerned that a future default by Venezuela could result in Russian ownership of Citgo. This would give Russia clear control over the sixth-largest refinery in our country, the ability to impact gas prices for the American people, and a strategic advantage over U.S. freedom of action globally. Russia has made no secret of its ambitions to thwart the U.S., and it is using countries in the Western Hemisphere to accomplish its objectives."
"I urge CFIUS to review this recent transaction and take necessary action to protect our nation’s energy infrastructure.”
CFIUS is the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, made up of the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Justice, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Secretary of Energy, the US. Trade Representative and the head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
CFIUS is tasked with reviewing any transaction that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person in order to determine its effect on the national security of the U.S.A.
Ranking Member Sires agreed.
“The Chairman and I recently held a hearing examining Venezuela’s collapse and in the days shortly after things went from bad to worse," said Sires. "Maduro continues to tighten his grip on the country by trying to dissolve the legislature and using violent tactics to suppress peaceful protestors who are trying desperately to have their voices heard and save their country."
"Given the troubling developments, I am hoping the Trump Administration is looking into what would happen if Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA collapses, giving a Russian oil company currently under U.S. sanctions a nearly 50% stake in Citgo. I urge them to pay close attention to this issue as it develops and work with Congress to protect American interests and values both here abroad.”
POLICY RECOMMENDATION #1: CFIUS ANALYSIS OF CITGO
Under "POLICY RECOMMENDATION #1: CFIUS ANALYSIS OF CITGO," Dallen had testified the following:
"A preliminary search of the database of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) does not show that the purchase of Citgo by Venezuela has ever undergone a CFIUS review. Under the Exon-Florio Amendment, if a party has never availed itself of the voluntary CFIUS notification and review process, there is no limitations period on the President’s authority to investigate a past transaction, which since the 2007 Foreign Investment and National Security Act includes “energy security.”
"Second, we have gained access to only 2 pages of the Rosneft contract with Venezuela. We do not know what the trigger is for Rosneft to take control of their 49.9% of Citgo or even if that triggering event has already happened. (Our Citgo investigation sparked additional lawsuits from Canadian goldminer Crystallex [which this weekend had its $1.4 billion judgment against Venezuela from the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) upheld and registered by the U.S. Federal District Court in Washington, D.C.] and ConocoPhillips against Venezuela, PDVSA, Citgo, and Rosneft under Delaware’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. Those plaintiffs are seeking discovery in an attempt to find out similar information which Venezuela has so far blocked with an appeal to the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals.)"
"A CFIUS review would be able to access the Venezuela-Russia contract to know if Rosneft is already the owner of Citgo."
"Third, in October 2016, in an attempt to stave off default, PDVSA cajoled holders of $2.8 billion of its $7.2 billion in maturing debt to swap into $3.4 billion of new PDVSA debt collateralized by the other 50.1% of Citgo. It is possible that Rosneft owns a large share of those bonds, with the possibility of giving Russia majority control of Citgo. Again, a CFIUS committee would be able to get access to those details to be able to determine the potential owners of that other half of Citgo," Dallen testified.