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No end in sight, Venezuelan imprisoned families of Citgo executives pushing for answers



34-year-old Carlos Añez was upset when his stepfather, a senior Citgo employee, was called to a meeting in Venezuela on the weekend before Thanksgiving 2017. His stepfather, Jorge Toledo, vice president of supply and marketing at the time, would miss his granddaughter's fourth birthday and possibly Thanksgiving if the meeting was too late, as is usually the case.

Citgo, based in Houston, is the US subsidiary of state-owned Venezuelan oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela or PDVSA. For some executives, traveling to Caracas was not unusual.

"Strangely enough, when he arrived at the airport, all the Venezuelan American Vice Presidents were present. The others were excluded, "Añez said. "He called my mother and told her that was unusual."

Arrested at the PDVSA headquarters in Caracas, armed and masked security forces arrested the men ̵

1; five American citizens and one US citizen.

The families of Texas-based and Louisiana-born executives were at a loss when Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab announced at a press conference that senior executives had been jailed for a contract to refinance Citgo's debt. 19659002] The families vigorously reject the allegations and insist that their relatives are innocent.

Jorge Toledo lost 40 pounds and prison officials shaved their heads. The Toledo Family

Since then, men have been held in custody Cellar Venezuela's military counterintelligence and relatives have described their conditions as human rights violations. At one point in time, 60 people shared a room for 22 people. The lights are on 24 hours a day and they are allowed to stay outside for 20 minutes every six to eight weeks.

Until the families were allowed to send food for nearly a year later, the men's diet consisted of rice and noodles, causing Toledo to lose 50 pounds. Now at 125 pounds he has chronic bronchitis, pre-diabetes and hypertension that have gone untreated. Phone calls are short and sporadic. Añez said his stepfather and the other inmates had not called home since March.

At home, the times are difficult. Citgo has cut executive salaries after six months. Añez & # 39; s mother, who takes care of her mother-in-law full-time, now sells her house because she has no income.

The business that never came to fruition.

Citgo is Venezuela's largest foreign asset. Saab, Venezuela's largest attorney general, accused Citgo's six executives of signing a contract to refinance corporate debt with conditions unfavorable to Venezuela and offered Citgo as collateral. The alleged agreement consisted of the Apollo Global Management investment fund and the Dubai-based Frontier, which worked on Apollo deals.

Documents viewed by NBC News in February 2017 show that refinancing negotiations have been approved by the Board of Directors of PDVSA. [19659002] But a deal was never signed. According to a source close to the negotiations, Apollo began reviewing the refinancing in July 2017. In early October, however, the company decided to take no further steps with Citgo.

Saab indicated that Swiss-based company Mangore Sarl acted as refinancing facilitator The deal was completed and there was a "suspected" link between the company and Citgo executives.


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