WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela's state owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), donated half-a-million dollars for President Donald J. Trump's Inauguration, newly released U.S. Federal Election Committee filings show.
According to the FEC filing, Citgoís $500,000 contribution came on December 22 -- one day after the Latin American Herald Tribune
broke the story that Venezuela had mortgaged 49.9% of Citgo to Russia's Rosneft for $1.5 billion.
LAHT editor Russ Dallen testified before Congress last month on the transaction, and last week U.S. Senate leaders joined House leaders in calling for a U.S. government Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) review of Venezuela's Citgo deal with Russia's Rosneft.
Rosneft is on the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned company list as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea. U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business with Rosneft as a result. Rosneft head Igor Sechin, a long-time associate and former aide to Russia President Vladimir Putin, is also on the sanction list.
Venezuela has also been declared a National Security threat by the President for the last three years in a row.
Aside from the fact that Venezuela is reeling from shortages of everything from food to medicine, the half-a-million dollar donation appears to be unusual for Citgo, which didnít contribute to U.S. presidential inaugurations in 2005, 2009 or 2013.
According to the 510 page filing (see below), Citgo's contribution was among the largest from fossil-fuel companies -- which in all donated almost $3.6 million to the inaugural fund.
Trumpís inaugural committee also received support from John B. Hess, CEO of Hess Corp., who contributed $1 million. Chevron contributed $525,000. Equaling the contribution from Citgo, ExxonMobil and British Petroleum (BP) each gave $500,000. . Anadarko gave $100,000, as did Valero.
For many donors, the inaugural committee represented the last or only chance to get on the Trump bandwagon before he took the oath of office. Corporations, barred by federal law from donating to campaigns, can underwrite the costs of inaugural festivities.
Federal law allows inaugural committees to largely determine their own rules about who can contribute and how much. For his first inauguration, Obama limited donations to $50,000, and didnít accept them from corporations or lobbyists. For his second, he raised the limit to $1 million and allowed corporate contributions. Trumpís team set no limit on the amounts individuals and corporations could give.
While the committeeís report to the FEC discloses its donors, the first glimpse into its spending doesnít have to be shared until the spring of 2018, at the earliest, when the committee, a nonprofit, files with the Internal Revenue Service.
Four years ago, Obama raised $43.7 million for his scaled-down second inauguration, which cost $40.3 million. At his first inauguration, Obama raised more than $53 million, a record at the time.
Citgo's contribution helped propel Trumpís inaugural fundraising to a new record of $106.7 million -- double the record set in Obama's first inauguration.
Citgo's CEO at the time of the contribution was Nelson Martinez who in January was appointed Venezuela's Minister of Oil and Mining.
Citgo is currently being sued in multi-billion dollar suits for "fraudulently transferring" assets out of the US to avoid judgments from gold miner Crystallex and oil major ConocoPhillips.
Last week Crystallex filed for a preliminary injunction halting PDV Holding from making any further disposal of Citgo assets. The preliminary injunction marks the first step in seizing Citgo to pay off the $1.4 billion that Venezuela owes to Crystallex for the expropriation of its gold mining investments in the country. The filing also revealed what the second step is:
"Crystallex is preparing to file a motion seeking an order ... that Crystallex may seek to attach assets to aid in the execution of its judgment. Once that happens, Crystallex intends to seek an order directing the shares of PDVH held by Venezuela's alter ego, PDVSA, be sold to satisfy Crystallex's judgment."
FEC Filing - Trump Inauguration Donations - 18 April 2017 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd
Senate CFIUS Letter on PdVSA - Citgo - Rosneft - 10 April 2017 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd
Rosneft Citgo Letter - US Congress Duncan-Sires - 6 April 2017 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd
Dallen - Testimony - Venezuela's Tragic Meltdown by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd