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Citgo gets ready to appoint a new general manager amid political and legal crisis

Citgo Petroleum is preparing to formalize the election of Carlos Jordá as general manager, three sources close to the process said, with which a Venezuelan refining expert would direct the firm amid legal and political attacks following US sanctions to its parent company.

Citgo gas station

Gas station of the company Citgo. Taken from: citgo.com

Reuters | Marianna Parraga

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Leer en español: Citgo se alista para nombrar nuevo gerente general en medio de agitación política y legal

The US-based refiner cut ties with its parent company, Petroleos de Venezuela, earlier this year after the administration of President Donald Trump and another dozen countries recognized the head of Congress, Juan Guaidó, as president in charge of the partner country of OPEC

Citgo executives loyal to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro were expelled from the subsidiary after Guaidó appointed management boards for PDVSA and its external subsidiaries.

The designation of Jordá could be announced as soon as this week, once the board of directors ratifies the selection process, according to one of the sources.

Jordá, 69, chaired the Citgo board of directors between 1999 and 2002 and retired from the company in the early 2000s. He is the director of Delek US Holding, a Tennessee-based oil refinery.

A Citgo spokeswoman referred questions about Jordá and the potential appointment of a new general manager to a June statement, in which the company had said the board was looking for a "leader who could navigate the complex geopolitical and financial landscape in the best way."

Jordá, who according to one of the sources has not yet formally accepted the offer, could not be reached. PDVSA and the Guaido team did not respond to requests for comment.

Venezuelan Petroleum Minister Manuel Quevedo said that the Trump administration is "stealing" Citgo and applying "irrational measures" that seek an economic war against Maduro.

Read also: Maduro suspends dialogue with the opposition over its support for the US embargo

The next head of the PDVSA subsidiary will take over a profitable business that reported nearly US $30 billion in revenue last year, according to data released by the company. Citgo is the eighth largest refiner in the United States and has a network of 5,300 points of sale.

But it is also a company besieged on several fronts: Maduro still has its directors and considers the separation of PDVSA as illegal; Venezuelan creditors want to take Citgo assets to collect outstanding debts and the United States Department of Justice is investigating the firm's role in alleged bribery schemes to obtain contracts.

Luisa Palacios, a Venezuelan executive appointed by Guaidó to lead the Citgo board, would remain in office as well as other directors, said one of the sources.

The decision comes after a court in the United States preliminarily rejected a lawsuit filed by officials appointed by Maduro who sought to retake control of the company. The final resolution of this case has not yet occurred.

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