PDVSA’s EXCLUSIVE creditors target $ 600m in Portugal bank account – documents, source
NEW YORK / LISBON, July 23 (Reuters) – Creditors of Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA are targeting funds held in the accounts of Portuguese company Novo Banco in an attempt to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid debt.
Puerto Rican bank Banco San Juan Internacional (BSJI) in July obtained an injunction from a Lisbon court to seize funds held in an account containing $ 1.3 billion at Novo Banco as compensation for PDVSA’s default on a settlement agreement. credit with the bank in 2018, according to court documents seen by Reuters.
U.S. glassmaker OI Glass Inc (OI.N) and Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips (COP.N) have requested similar orders to recover arbitral awards for nationalization of assets, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Claims for payment from Novo Banco’s account total nearly $ 600 million, said the person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
These measures represent a new front in years-long efforts to collect debts from Venezuela, which struggles in a hyperinflationary economy and US sanctions aimed at ousting President Nicolas Maduro that have cut off much of its access to the financial system. American.
Maduro’s socialist government oversaw an economic collapse in the once prosperous OPEC country and defaulted on more than $ 60 billion in bonds. He owes billions more in arbitration awards.
BSJI won an $ 83.9 million judgment in November against PDVSA after suing in Britain, where it had agreed with PDVSA to settle the disputes, according to a UK court document. The court rejected PDVSA’s argument that it could not pay due to US sanctions, according to the document.
A judge in a Lisbon district court on July 8 granted BSJI the right to seize funds held at Novo Banco, according to a Portuguese court document.
This decision noted that “other international creditors seek to satisfy their credits from the amounts deposited with Novo Banco”, without giving further details.
BSJI received a license in December from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces sanctions, allowing it to receive funds from PDVSA to collect outstanding debts, according to a copy of the license. seen by Reuters.
Neither the July ruling in favor of BSJI nor details of the bank’s OFAC license were previously reported.
“BSJI is committed to asserting its legal rights, regardless of the counterparty, the legal forum in which we find ourselves or any other obstacle,” Eric Bloom, general counsel of BSJI, said in a statement.
Neither PDVSA nor Venezuelan oil or information ministries responded to requests for comment.
Reuters could not immediately determine whether OI Glass, which seeks a $ 500 million arbitration award for the 2010 expropriation of two factories in Venezuela, or ConocoPhillips, which has an $ 8.5 billion award related to the expropriation of its assets in 2007, had obtained a court orders in Portugal.
OI Glass and ConocoPhillips declined to comment.
In 2017, OI sold its prize to an unnamed Irish investment fund for $ 115 million, but could receive additional payouts if the fund managed to raise, according to documents filed by the company.
However, a Portuguese court extended in October 2020 the freezing of PDVSA’s Novo Banco account due to the risk of embezzlement, money laundering or other financial crimes, which means it is uncertain when BSJI or other creditors will be able to recover.
The bank blocked an attempt by Maduro’s government in February 2019 to transfer funds to banks in Uruguay, according to Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Carlos Paparoni.
Report by Luc Cohen in New York and Sergio GonÃ§alves in Lisbon; Additional reporting by Catarina Demony in Lisbon Editing by Marguerita Choy
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