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Venezuela Brings Zerpa, Sanctioned by United States, Back to Faltering PDVSA

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CARACAS — Venezuela’s government has named Simon Zerpa, who was sanctioned by the United States last year, as an external director of state oil company PDVSA while confirming General Manuel Quevedo as the firm’s president, the company said in a statement.

Zerpa had been PDVSA finance vice president until February, but was removed from the executive after Washington barred American citizens from meeting with him on grounds that he was involved in corruption.

He returns at a time when PDVSA’s production has dropped to its lowest in 33 years and the company has been delaying payments on billions of dollars in foreign bonds.

The confirmation of Quevedo as president follows weeks of rumors that he would be replaced.

Executive Vice President Ysmel Serrano will also remain in his post, PDVSA said. A lawsuit filed by a U.S.-based group called PDVSA Litigation Trust describes Serrano as the leader of a multibillion-dollar corruption scheme.

The crisis-stricken country is struggling under hyperinflation and shortages of essential goods such as food and medicine due to the collapse of its socialist economic system.

President Nicolas Maduro, who is up for re-election on May 20, says his government is the victim of an “economic war” led by political adversaries.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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