Citgo mislays $718 million; SEC opens probe
16.06.05 | Awhile back, the New York Times, in an unexpectedly excellent (and not just for them) story, exposed an incredible array of mismanagement over at Citgo, the U.S. oil refiner and marketer of Venezuelan crude oil that has had the misfortune of experiencing a Hugo Chavez management takeover by the Venezuelan state. And the results are starting to be about what you would expect.
Aside from details about guns being sighted at the company headquarters and corporate dissidents having their front lawns trashed by suspected chavista goons, the most important detail of the Times story was that high-ranking U.S. officials who had worked for the company for years were resigning rather than signing off on some of the SEC financial statements for Citgo they were being asked to sign. They didn't want to do it.
Now, El Universal is reporting that $718 million of Citgo company funds have mysteriously ... vanished. If they're really gone, this perfectly reflects the management style of Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA that we noted here. Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that the SEC has launched an investigation into insider trading at the company regarding a $550 million debt buyback. One official coyly hints at tips from insiders as the trigger for their investigation. All I can think of are those resignations described in that Times story.
As Enron formerly was, Citgo is located in Houston. Nobody living in that town would want to sign off on any dodgy SEC statements, having seen the law enforcement response befalling their former corporate neighbor. There are plenty of other oil companies to work for there, and no reason to risk one's freedom and fortune to cover up possible wrongdoing by Marxist predators.
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