(Adds that El Koury did not work on Puerto Rico while at
By Nick Brown
Feb 23 The federally appointed board tasked with
managing Puerto Rico's finances hired retired attorney Jaime A.
El Koury, formerly of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, as its
general counsel, it said on Thursday.
El Koury, a graduate of Yale Law School, will lead the board
in helping the U.S. territory restructure some $70 billion in
Cleary was counsel to the Puerto Rican government during
ex-Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla's administration, from 2014
to 2016. El Koury retired from Cleary in 2014 and did not work
on the Puerto Rico matter while at the firm, board spokesman
Jose Cedeno said.
New Governor Ricardo Rossello, who criticized Garcia
Padilla's fiscal policies and legislative initiatives during
last year's campaign, fired Cleary when he took office on Jan.
El Koury will advise the oversight board, which is separate
from the island's government, although the two will work closely
in the coming months as Puerto Rico tries to restructure debt
and stave off economic crisis characterized by a 45 percent
poverty rate and near-insolvent public health and pension
Under a 2016 federal rescue law known as PROMESA, the board
must approve Puerto Rico's budgeting and financial turnaround
strategies, a source of tension among locals and Puerto Rico
lawmakers, who see it as encroaching on the island's
El Koury, born and raised in Puerto Rico, worked on myriad
corporate matters at Cleary, including mergers and acquisitions,
restructurings and other financial transactions, the oversight
board said in a statement.
“We are very pleased to be able to count on Jaime’s legal
expertise, negotiating abilities, understanding of economics and
impeccable ethical and professional credentials," José Carrión,
the board's chairman, said in the statement.
El Koury said he welcomed the chance to help revitalize his
island. "PROMESA is a tool provided by Congress to help get the
island back on the path of fiscal balance," he said in the
statement. "And I will do my very best to help the Oversight
Board achieve those goals."
(Reporting by Nick Brown; Editing by Andrew Hay and Dan