Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Will Hugo Chavez be brought down by Sarbanes-Oxley?

The Troubled Oil Company

Ever since Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, the American executives at Citgo Petroleum, the large refiner and gasoline marketer that is owned by Petróleos de Venezuela and based here, have worried about their future under the mercurial leader.

Their fears may be coming true. Current and former Citgo executives have revealed in recent weeks that Mr. Chávez has shaken to the core the company's once-staid culture, leaving Citgo in a state of near disarray.

Nearly every high-ranking executive has resigned over the last two years, including the refining chief, the chief financial officer, the head auditor and the marketing director.

Geoff Reid, a former assistant treasurer, said in an interview that he left in part because it had become tough to track the company's cash flow, and he had become concerned about his "personal liability" in approving Citgo's financial statements.... [more via the NY Times]

So if Chavez breaks the law by cooking the books of a US corporation in this new era of zero tolerance and personal liability for corporate shenanigans, will Bush the Younger send in the troops to arrest him, like his dad sent them to bring out Manuel Noriega?