MANHATTAN (CN) – Wilpro Energy Services fears the Venezuelan government could defraud it of $45 million by submitting false claims to U.S. banks after President Hugo Chavez nationalized Wilpro’s holdings there. Wilpro has sued three U.S. banks and the Venezuelan national oil company to try to prevent it.
In May this year, the Venezuelan National Guard and a Venezuelan judge helped the national oil company, PDVSA Petroleo Y Gas, take over Wilpro’s assets, which are worth “hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars,” Wilpro says in its complaint in New York County Court.
PDVSA had stopped making payments to Wilpro 7 months before the nationalization; it dismissed Wilpro’s security personnel and ordered other employees to exchange their uniforms for red PDVSA coveralls, according to the complaint.
Wilpro says it sent notices of nonrenewal to defendants JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and ABN AMRO Bank, which had provided lines of credit.
But Wilpro says the banks are required to pay up to $45 million in just a few hours if PDVSA submits a false claim.
Wilpro, along with its parent companies, the Williams Companies and Exterran Holdings, wants the three banks and PDVSA enjoined from drawing on the lines of credit.
Wilpro is represented by Ralph Siciliano with Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt.