June 30, 2020 / 6:40 PM / 14 days ago

Venezuela's opposition names new members to PDVSA ad-hoc board

FILE PHOTO: A gas station of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is seen in Caracas, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello

(Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition-held National Assembly on Tuesday named three new members to an ad-hoc board of directors for state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, which controls some of the company’s most important overseas assets.

It was the latest shakeup in opposition leader Juan Guaido’s overseas leadership team, which is tasked with defending the country’s assets abroad, including U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp, a PDVSA subsidiary eyed by creditors seeking to collect on debt.

Guaido, the National Assembly speaker who was recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president by dozens of Western countries after invoking the constitution to assume the role in January 2019, has not succeeded in ousting socialist President Nicolas Maduro, accused of rigging his 2018 re-election.

Among those the Assembly named to the board was Horacio Medina, a former PDVSA executive who rose to prominence during a 2002 strike against the policies of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor and mentor. Medina was among thousands of experienced employees fired from the company after the strike.

The other two new members are Javier Linares, who currently serves on an ad-hoc board for a PDVSA subsidiary responsible for partnerships with foreign companies, and Luis Vilchez, a former PDVSA project engineer.

Their appointments follow the resignations last month of U.S.-based members, economist Alejandro Grisanti and oil and gas consultant Maria Lizardo. Grisanti said in his resignation letter that since the role was not compensated, he needed to return to his professional activities after 15 months on the board.

Guaido’s chief overseas legal representative, Jose Ignacio Hernandez, resigned earlier this month due to what he called “the urgent need to implement deep institutional reforms in the state’s judicial defense system.”

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse in the once-prosperous OPEC nation and is accused of corruption and human rights violations, calls Guaido a U.S. puppet.

Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Mayela Armas in Caracas; Editing by Leslie Adler

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