Fri, 19 Aug 2022

Mexico City, Mexico, January 5, 2022 ( - Colombia's Corporation Superintendency retained control over Venezuelan state-owned Monomeros Colombo-Venezolanos, S.A. after a series of mismanagement scandals by self-proclaimed "Interim President" Juan Guaido and his allies.

The troubled Colombia-based agrochemical producer is considered Venezuela's second most important foreign-held asset and was handed over to the hardline Venezuelan opposition following the self-proclamation of Guaido as "interim president" in 2019. Since coming under control of the opposition, Monomeros has been plagued by scandals and corruption allegations, with different factions clashing over the running of the company.

On September 3, 2021, Colombia's Corporation Superintendency issued a resolution to assume control of Monomeros. Colombian law allows the corporate watchdog to employ such a process when an enterprise is in a critical "judicial, accounting, economic or administrative" situation.

The Venezuelan opposition-appointed board appealed the Colombian regulator's decision and vowed to reach agreements directly with creditors.

The watchdog rejected that appeal and on December 30, 2021 ratified its decision to assume control over the corporation, arguing that conditions inside the company had not sufficiently improved and was still at the risk of insolvency. According to Colombian sources, the firm's debt to suppliers stood at more than US $30 million in mid 2021.

Monomeros has been under the control of Venezuela's hardline opposition since May 2019, when it and a number of other foreign assets were handed to Guaido following recognition from Washington and its allies as part of efforts to oust the Nicolas Maduro government.

The agrochemical enterprise, which has two main plants, plays a big role in neighboring Colombia's food chain, supplying 46 percent of fertilizers and 70 percent of the agrochemicals used by coffee, potato and palm oil production. Colombian leftist presidential candidate Gustavo Petro criticized the decision by the Ivan Duque government to hand the company over to Guaido, alleging that fertilizer doubled in price as a result.

For its part, Caracas called the Corporation Superintendency takeover a "flagrant theft" of Venezuela's assets.

In a recent interview with Ignacio Ramonet, Maduro said Venezuela was engaged in "permanent diplomatic, political and legal activity" to recover the country's foreign assets and pinned the blame on Monomero's problems at the feet of the hardline opposition.

"It is a company that was well administered by the Revolution, it has been bankrupted, embezzled and destroyed by some bandits: Juan Guaido, Leopoldo Lopez," said Maduro.

The firm has since seen a revolving door of leadership and a series of major corruption claims, including allegations that the family of Leopoldo Lopez, Guaido's mentor, was benefiting from contracts issued by the agrochemical company.

The scandals surrounding the enterprise have also served to expose the growing fractures within Guaido's camp.

The Justice First party blasted the Guaido faction for publishing an unauthorized "restructuring" proposal on Twitter. In an interview former Guaido "ambassador" to Colombia, Humberto Calderon Berti, blamed the former lawmaker and Lopez for Monomeros' decline and accused opposition groups of using the asset as "a pinata."

In October 2021, the opposition-controlled National Assembly rejected Guaido's proposal to restructure Monomeros and appoint a new board, appointing an inquiry commission that visited the company. However, the commission presented no findings after an initial report.

Although the formerly Guaido-led parliament had its end in January 2021, it continues operating as part of the US-backed "interim government". The defunct legislators recently extended their term and Guaido's leadership, being quickly endorsed by the US Department of State. Nevertheless, Justice First and allied factions took away some of the "interim presidency"'s power, including autonomy to appoint executives for enterprises under opposition control like Monomeros.

Venezuela's highest judicial authority has ruled that the outgoing National Assembly's decree to extend its mandate after it expired in January 2021 is unconstitutional.

In a meeting with legislators from the pro-government bloc of the National Assembly elected in 2020, President Maduro called for an investigation into actions by lawmakers from the previous parliament.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.

Jose Luis Granados Ceja | source: venezuelanalysis

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