July 9, 2020 / 10:02 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Venezuela's Guaidó names Citgo chief executive to board

(Adds Citgo statement)

July 9 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s National Assembly speaker Juan Guaidó on Thursday named the chief executive of U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp to the board of directors of the company, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state company Petroleos de Venezuela.

Carlos Jordá, a former Citgo executive who rejoined the company last year after Venezuela’s opposition wrested control of the subsidiary from President Nicolas Maduro’s government, will replace Executive Vice President Rick Esser on the board, according to a document Guaidó sent to Venezuela’s congress and seen by Reuters.

The United States and other countries recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader based on his position as chief of the parliament, arguing Maduro rigged his 2018 re-election. That has paved the way for the opposition to take over some of Venezuela’s overseas assets, namely Houston-based Citgo.

In a statement, Citgo confirmed the move and said the change would not affect Esser’s role as executive vice president.

Luisa Palacios, a former banker and consultant named Citgo board chairwoman by Guaidó last year, will remain in the role.

Esser, who joined Citgo in 1997, had been the last holdover on the board from the period before Guaidó’s representatives took over in 2019. He ran the company’s day-to-day operations for several months last year after the opposition ousted Asdrubal Chavez from the chief executive role.

“Mr. Esser had been appointed to CITGO’s Board when he served as its senior executive in the absence of a President and CEO,” Citgo said.

Chavez, a cousin of the late leftist President Hugo Chavez, is now president of PDVSA.

The shift comes as multiple creditors are seeking to seize shares in Citgo’s parent company in order to collect on debts owed by Venezuela or PDVSA. Washington has blocked these attempts under its sanctions regulations on PDVSA, part of its efforts to oust Maduro.

Marcelo Laprea and Pablo Jose Perez also joined Citgo’s board, replacing Luis Urdaneta and Angel Olmeta.

Citgo owns three U.S. refineries with a combined capacity of 769,000 barrels per day. (Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City; Editing by Dan Grebler and Daniel Wallis)

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