CARACAS (Reuters) - Credit Suisse Group (CSGN.S) has barred transactions involving certain Venezuelan bonds and is requiring that business with Venezuela’s government and related agencies undergo a reputation risk review, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
The action comes amid increasing scrutiny of Venezuela following the widely criticized election of a legislative superbody and comes less than three months after Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was slammed for buying $2.8 billion in bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA.
“In light of the political climate and recent events in Venezuela ... we want to ensure that Credit Suisse does not provide the means for anyone to violate the human rights of the Venezuelan people,” reads the memo, which was seen by Reuters.
A Credit Suisse spokesman confirmed its contents.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The memo shows that Credit Suisse has ordered its Reputational Risk office to approve all businesses with Venezuelan counterparts, whether they are companies “controlled by the Venezuelan Government, private sector and individuals” or even if there is an “active Venezuelan “in the operation.
The restriction would not affect bank clients who already hold Venezuelan securities, and only requires a tighter assessment process for upcoming deals.
It also prohibits trading of Venezuelan bonds issued after June 1, 2017, or any transactions involving the Venezuela sovereign bond maturing in 2036 or the PDVSA 2022 - the so-called “hunger bonds” that Goldman bought in May.
President Nicolas Maduro this year led the creation of the legislative superbody, an all powerful group known as the constituent assembly that was elected in July amid an opposition boycott.
Opposition leaders and governments around the world have decried the assembly’s creation as the consolidation of a dictatorship.
Venezuela has come under fire for using excess force against demonstrators during four months of anti-government protests by citizens outraged over rampant inflation and shortages of food and medicine. More than 120 people have been killed in the unrest.
Maduro says the protests are a violent effort to overthrow his government and assures that the constituent assembly will bring peace to the country.
Reporting by Corina Pons, writing by Brian Ellsworth and Hugh Bronstein; editing by Dan Grebler and Steve Orlofsky