CARACAS -- The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) issued a decision on Monday asserting to approve the formation of a new joint venture called PETROSUR, a responsibility given by the Constitution solely to the National Assembly.
Empresa Mixta PETROSUR S.A. is a joint venture made up of the Corporación Venezolana de Petróleo, SA (CVP) and Stichting Administratiekantoor Inversiones Petroleras Iberoamericanas, a Dutch shell company.
Stichtings are Dutch legal entities, like a foundations and trusts, which make it possible to separate ownership and control, so that actual ownership or beneficiaries are not easily evident nor important.
According to the Supreme Court's ruling, the joint venture will be located in the Junín field of the Orinoco Oil Belt.
The TSJ said that it was taking these actions under the controversial decision it pronounced in late March when it attempted to dissolve the National Assembly but was later forced to clarify.
"While the Venezuela Supreme Court took out the portion of their opinion dissolving the National Assembly, the TSJ kept in the part asserting that it had the right to approve joint oil ventures since the National Assembly was in 'contempt'", said Russ Dallen, an international lawyer who pointed out in a report last month that the TSJ kept that part in. "Section 9 of Article 187 of the Constitution says specifically that it is the function of the National Assembly to 'authorize the National Executive to enter into contracts in the national interest,' and to 'authorize contracts in the municipal, state and national public interest, with foreign States, or official entities or with companies not domiciled in Venezuela.'"
The Supreme Court claimed that it was taking the actions in compliance with the provisions in judgment #156 dated March 29, 2017. "These actions taken by the TSJ are due to the constitutional contempt presented by the National Assembly since July 2016," the TSJ press release argued.Stichting Administratiekantoor Inversiones Petroleras Iberoamericanas
Relatively little is known so far about Stichting Administratiekantoor Inversiones Petroleras Iberoamericanas. A search of corporate records in Holland shows that it was only first registered 2 and a half months ago on April 19, 2017 with an address in the Hague. Its largest holding seems to be an anonymous British Virgin Island company called Arazen Investments Limited.