The Venezuelan National Assembly, with an opposition majority, approved the creation of a 20 million USD litigation fund for the defense and management of the Republic’s resources held abroad.
The proposal presented by interim president Juan Guaidó was approved without consensus, although there were parties that requested greater clarity in accountability, which should be reflected in the approved document.
— Procuraduría Especial de la República de Venezuela (@DeProcuraduria) January 29, 2020
Both the deputies of the opposition party Justice First and those representing the July 16 Fraction did not approve the proposal. They asked to defer the discussion to get more details on the agreement.
In November, the parliamentarians created a 3.5 million USD fund to defend the assets of the Central Bank of Venezuela and the state-owned oil company PDVSA. Now, the National Assembly has authorized a higher amount for this scheme.
The economist Ángel Alvarado, deputy of Primero Justicia, said that “the fraction is asking for information on based on which the technical commission has authorized asset defense and litigation projects and what the amounts are.”
“We abstained from voting regarding the approval of the Agreement for the Creation of Litigation Funds because the approval of millions of dollars in resources must have prior and subsequent supervision. The draft agreement presented and approved today does not reflect this supervision,” said the Parliamentary Block July 16 via Twitter.
The opposition party Popular Will claims that disputed state funds are in blocked accounts in the United States and allegedly require the authorization of the U.S. State Department.
We must also remember that according to the Transition Statute approved by the National Assembly itself, “the assets of the State that have been recovered through the established mechanisms cannot be disposed of until the usurpation ceases.” It remains to be seen how these resources will be invested if there is still no comptroller, and the Parliament’s Comptroller’s Commission itself has been involved in corruption cases.
The document states that the funds are for the “payment of debts and trial expenses for the defense of assets abroad.” It also refers to “professional fees and legal expenses” that “only cover the payment of the Law Firms that have assumed the defense of the Venezuelan State since January 2019.”
Congressman Omar González, head of the July 16 parliamentary faction and a member of the Vente Venezuela party, told the PanAm Post that the proposal came as a surprise and that the faction abstained from voting because it did not know the details of the agreement.
“What resources are we talking about? What assets does the nation have abroad? The idea is to have transparency and complete information, which is crucial for the administration of the National Assembly because it is a sensitive issue since it deals with financial matters,” he said.
“One thing that called our attention is that the Finance Committee that usually presents these projects was not the one that presented them, and its president, Deputy Marquina, asked for the deferral of the consideration of that issue because he did not know the details. The vice-president of the NA, Congressman Guanipa, also abstained from voting along with his party,” he recalled.
Since Juan Guaidó became president of the interim government, the legitimate Venezuelan National Assembly has not appointed a comptroller to follow up on the management of resources despite some corruption scandals involving opposition deputies.
Deputy Alfonso Marquina said during the session that the vote should be deferred to “better develop the functions of prior and subsequent control” to avoid possible cases of corruption. However, other parties approved the funds despite the objection.