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Critics Accuse Goldman Sachs Of Helping A Dictatorship

10 Juin 2017

Venezuelan opposition leaders have accused the major Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs, of supporting a "dictatorial regime" for purchasing US$2.8 billion in bonds from the Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA, in spite of the fact that the purchase is a boost to the Venezuelan economy, Reuters reported.

According to the letter, the bonds, first issued by Venezuela's state-owned oil company Pdvsa in 2014 and held by the central bank since, were purchased at a hefty discount, worth nearly 70%.

"Goldman Sachs' financial lifeline to the regime will serve to strengthen the brutal repression unleashed against the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans peacefully protesting for political change in the country", said Julio Borges, head of Venezuela's Congress, in a letter to Goldman Sachs president Lloyd Blankfein.

An opposition leader at the march on Tuesday, Miguel Pizarro, said they would not give up despite the government's attempts to quell the movement.

Members of the Venezuelan opposition have criticized Goldman Sachs' discounted purchase for $2.8 billion of government petroleum bonds.

According to the people in the know, last week Goldman's asset management division paid US$0.31 on the dollar, or around US$865 million, for bonds that PDVSA issued in 2014 and that mature in 2022.

In New York, about two dozen protesters chanting "Shame on you Goldman Sachs" picketed outside of Goldman's headquarters in lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon.

Guatemala's Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales, who chaired the meeting, said no consensus had been reach on how to address the turmoil in Venezuela, which has taken more than 60 lives since early April. The large holders of Pdvsa bonds are BlackRock, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, JPMorgan Chase and Ashmore.

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A group of almost 30 protesters gathered outside Goldman Sachs' New York headquarters on Tuesday. Many mutual funds and ETFs buy JP Morgan's index on behalf of millions of Americans with 401 (k)'s and other investments.

Goldman Sachs has pointed out that the bonds it has purchased were bought on a secondary market and not from the government.

The term "hunger bonds", a play on the "Hunger Games" movies in which a teenager leads the resistance against a fictional totalitarian state, has resonance because so many Venezuelans lack for food.

Fifty-nine people have died in the often violent street melees, which Maduro calls an effort to overthrow his government.

In addition, the letter stated that the Venezuelan Congress will investigate the transaction and that Borges will recommend that the Venezuelan government not recognize or pay the bonds.

"We believe there is an global role in the rebuilding of trust among the main political actors in Venezuela as well as the reduction of tensions", Shannon said.

Goldman Sachs said the bond purchase was based on expectations that things in Venezuela will get better.

Critics Accuse Goldman Sachs Of Helping A Dictatorship