Koch brothers sue Venezuela to collect $409 million

WASHINGTON (AP) – The capitalist Koch brothers want the socialist president of Venezuela to pay up.

Two companies that belong to Koch Industries, the energy conglomerate of the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, are suing Venezuela to collect $409 million awarded by an international arbitration panel.

Koch Minerals Sarl and Koch Nitrogen International Sarl filed the lawsuit this week in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

A request for comment by the Venezuelan Embassy was not immediately answered.

Both companies argue Venezuela has not paid any part of the award granted in October by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, after then-President Hugo Chavez expropriated FertiNitro in 2010.

Koch Minerals Sarl indirectly owned 25 per cent of the equity of FertiNitro, the owner of two fertiliser plants located in Jose, Venezuela.

Koch Nitrogen International Sarl had a long-term agreement with FertiNitro to purchase, at a discount, both ammonia and urea.

The lawsuit by the Koch brothers – well-known for their strong advocacy for conservative causes – came only days after the Venezuelan government and the state oil company, PDVSA, defaulted on billions of dollars’ worth of bonds.

President Nicolas Maduro recently announced his plan to renegotiate foreign debt, though he has offered few details to investors.