The board of directors of Citgo Petroleum appointed by the head of the Venezuelan Congress was confirmed on Wednesday by an American judge, ending a dispute with former directors appointed by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Citgo, the eighth largest US refiner and the most important foreign asset of Venezuela, has been involved in a political battle when Washington tried to use it to weaken Maduro’s control over power.
The order signed by a Delaware Court judge further diminishes Maduro’s efforts to claim control over Citgo, based in Houston, a subsidiary of state-owned PDVSA.
The Venezuelan Parliament appointed a former Citgo executive, Carlos Jorda, this month as its new executive director to replace Asdrubal Chávez, brother of the late President Higo Chavez, who was appointed by Maduro.
Juan Guaido, the head of the Venezuelan congress, who has been recognized by the Trump administration as the legitimate leader of the South American country, appointed the new Citgo board of directors in February.
Guaido’s team wanted to ensure control of the business and protect it from the Maduro government’s attempts to seize Venezuelan foreign assets.
Maduro, who says he is the victim of a US-led coup attempt, has accused the opposition of trying to “rob” Citgo.
Earlier this month, Delaware Vice Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick ruled that opposition-backed directors were legitimately appointed, but delayed a final order to allow former directors to question the process.
PDVSA and a lawyer for the former directors did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Former directors can still appeal.
Citgo plans to introduce Jorda to investors on Wednesday, according to company sources.