April 12, 2017 / 3:59 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-Venezuela, PDVSA pay bondholders $2.6 bln despite economy crisis

(Adds official confirmation)

By Corina Pons

CARACAS, April 12 (Reuters) - Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA on Wednesday made $2.6 billion in bond payments, the OPEC country’s vice president said on Wednesday, fulfilling heavy debt service that has contributed to the country’s economic crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government has met commitments to Wall Street investors for years by slashing imports of basic goods such as food and medicine, spurring chronic product shortages. Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” led by opposition businesses.

Bondholders earlier told Reuters that PDVSA had made interest and principal payments of $2.2 billion.

The figure provided by Vice President Tareck El Aissami also included interest payments on Venezuela’s sovereign debt.

“Despite the ruthless economic war, in conspiracy with local media and foreign news agencies, spurred by imperialists and their internal cronies ... the revolutionary government has paid $2.557 billion,” El Aissami said in a statement on Twitter.

The payments due on Wednesday included interest and principal on PDVSA’s maturing 2017 bond as well as interest on its 2027 and 2037 notes.

PDVSA’s bonds were up across the board, with the benchmark 2022 rising 1.750 points to yield 31.404 percent.

Venezuela’s bonds are the highest-yielding of any emerging market security due to concerns about default.

Maduro has dismissed default talk as a smear campaign against his administration. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Corina Pons; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Bill Trott)

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