Venezuela holds onto prized US refineries amid legal battle

Posted at 5:41 PM, Nov 26, 2018

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuela will hold onto its U.S.-based Citgo refineries, settling a lawsuit that threw ownership of the struggling country’s prized assets into peril.

Court papers show that Venezuela on Friday began paying off $1.4 billion that a panel said was owed to the Canadian mining firm Crystallex, following a disputed takeover of the company by the late-President Hugo Chavez.

To recoup its losses, Crystallex had targeted Citgo refineries, potentially forcing Venezuela to sell off its most valuable foreign asset.

Papers filed in a Canadian court say Venezuela recently paid Crystallex $425 million, while agreeing to make good on the rest by 2021. That enables them to hold onto their refineries.

Russ Dallen of Miami-based Caracas Capital Markets says the payment shows Venezuela’s changing tactics – from fighting creditors to striking deals.