September 9, 2018 / 5:51 PM / in 7 months

Venezuela names El Aissami to PDVSA board of directors

FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has named Industry Minister Tareck El Aissami, who is under sanction by the United States for alleged involvement in the drugs trade, to the board of directors of state oil company PDVSA, according to the country’s Official Gazette.

His designation comes days after Venezuela announced the creation of a committee to reorganize PDVSA, without providing details on what that would entail.

El Aissami, who dismisses U.S. accusations against him as an effort by Washington to undermine the country’s government, until earlier this year served as vice president.

He also led a commission named last year to renegotiate the country’s foreign debt.

PDVSA’s board also includes Finance Minister Simon Zerpa, who is under U.S. sanction as well.

President Nicolas Maduro in April granted broad powers to PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo to carry out changes to the industry in order to boost output, which has fallen to 60-year lows amid a hyperinflationary economic crisis.

Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” led by political adversaries and the United States, which has levied several rounds of sanctions against Venezuela since last year.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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