Citgo Petroleum, the US refining subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, had a big year on the lobbying front in 2014. According to current records at OpenSecrets.org, the company spent $2.16 million on DC lobbying, a five-fold increase over 2013. It was the 9th-biggest among the 100+ clients of Cornerstone Government Affairs and fourth-biggest at Brownstein Hyatt. But it really shone by becoming the biggest client of the year at both Dutko Grayling and Squire Patton Boggs.
Patton Boggs client ranking per records at OpenSecrets.org. Current as of Jan 25 2015.
Yes, that Patton Boggs. From Ken Silverstein’s article on the lobby house from last week:
And no one is, or was, more symptomatic or responsible for this pathetic state of dysfunction than Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., who died last September… Boggs was a richly-paid lobbyist who ran his firm like a brothel, once saying, “We pick our clients by taking the first one who comes in the door.” With that as his guiding principle, Boggs and his firm compiled a client list that included America’s biggest, most criminally minded corporations and the world’s worst dictators.
Really a worthwhile read, so go click over there. It takes a lot of work to be the #1 client of Patton Boggs. The company had 179 paid clients last year. Following well behind PDVSA you find companies with massive regulatory worries. (Note that all figures were current at time of writing. Future disclosures may change the ranking.) So what was all that money spent on? Continue reading →
Reuters had the scoop yesterday:
Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA is using the sale of its Citgo Petroleum Corp refining assets to hinder the ability of ConocoPhillips to collect an expected arbitration award, the U.S. oil company said in a Texas court filing.
Evidence indicates PDVSA is liquidating its Citgo interests “to remove the proceeds from the United States to Venezuela or elsewhere with the specific intent to hinder, delay or defraud its creditors,” Conoco said on Monday in a petition for court approval to investigate that claim.
But as is typical, the big wire service couldn’t be dicked to post the filing. So here you go, yours at no extra fee. The “donate” button is over there on the right if you want to support independent journalism that actually gives you original documents, rather than making you scrounge around for them.
Argus is reporting that PDVSA is entertaining offers of $10 billion to $15 billion for Citgo Petroleum Corp. and is marketing its stake in the Chalmette refinery in Louisiana:
Venezuelan state-owned PdV has retained Deutsche Bank to find a buyer for its 50pc stake in the 184,000 b/d Chalmette refinery in Louisiana, a US-based PdV official told Argus… The energy ministry in Caracas confirmed today that Deutsche Bank is leading the search to find a buyer for PdV’s interest in the Chalmette refinery “as soon as possible.” …
Venezuelan officials told Argus yesterday that PdV is weighing offers in the range of $10bn-$15bn to buy its downstream subsidiary Citgo. The planned sale of Citgo is aimed at raising cash for upstream projects at home, redirecting more crude supply to China in exchange for oil-backed loans, and reducing the government´s potential exposure to international litigation.…
I don’t know if this will all be feasible from a legal standpoint, as the sale of assets that are subject to attachment in an arbitration claim could be frozen by the courts so that a potential winner can grab the assets. But assuming there’s a way to sell this stuff, does it make financial sense for PDVSA to do it? Continue reading →
Hey, remember Guillermo David Clamens and FTC Capital Markets?
The Venezuelan Supreme Court decided April 13 to free Clamens and to deny his extradition to the United States, where he was wanted for allegedly stealing $50 million from Citgo, the US unit of Venezuelan state oil company.
Unlike the last case of a Venezuelan financier who ripped off PDVSA, at least the police this time made the motions of taking the guy in. But in the end, Venezuelan justice said no to extradition of Mr. Clamens, who is wanted for conspiracy and wire fraud in New York. I’m no expert at reading Venezuela court filings but from what I can understand, they say that the US didn’t prove that the Clamens they want is the same guy as the Clamens who lives in Venezuela, and moreover Venezuelan law doesn’t allow the extradition of Venezuelan citizens — and Clamens is one. The odd part in this case is that the original complaint in the case came from the US SEC, naming Venezuela’s state oil company as a victim, but from what I can see in the Venezuelan court website, the Bolivarian Republic hasn’t filed its own case against this guy. That is, it was Citgo — part of PDVSA — that first went to authorities, causing the SEC and US Attorney to go after Clamens. But now PDVSA isn’t continuing to pursue the dude now that he is in PDVSA’s home turf in Venezuela.
As far as I can see, this hasn’t been covered anywhere previously, so enjoy your scoop du jour. Here’s the background. Continue reading →
Someone asked me to comment on this e-mail. The note itself, with its conspiracist, telling-you-what-the-MSM-doesn’t-want-you-to-know tone, its plentiful supply of capital letters, and its leaps of logic don’t deserve as much time as I gave it. I’m posting this because it shows the level of discourse in some segments of the U.S., which is the most powerful military and economic power on the planet.
This note includes some memes that have been well propagated by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, among others, about the Iran nuke missile threat from Venezuela. The extreme over-blowing of this threat would be laughable if it weren’t becoming part of the conventional wisdom, and if that conventional wisdom didn’t have the possibility (probability?) of turning into escalating trade sanctions, covert action or a military strike, any of which would probably lead to friends of mine being killed for nothing. We’ve seen the same pattern before in Iran, Iraq, Panama, Nicaragua.
Continue reading →