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Russian Takeover of Citgo May Be National Security…

Six senators are calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to review whether a potential Russian takeover of Citgo poses a national security threat – and violates economic sanctions, The Hill reported.

Government of Venezuela-owned Citgo risks defaulting on a loan from Rosneft, a Russian state-owned energy company, which could in turn take control of Citgo upon default.

The senators who signed the letter sent Monday to Tillerson and Mnuchin are Senate Finance Committee ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland, Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz,R-Texas, Marco Rubio,R-Fla., and Richard Blumenthal.D-Conn..

“Citgo operates across 19 states, with 48 terminals, interstate oil and gas pipelines, and refineries,” the senators wrote, The Hill reported.

“Serious questions have been raised regarding the national security risk of Rosneft — a company with close ties to President Putin — assuming control of U.S. energy infrastructure.”

The senators also asked Tillerson and Mnuchin to report on whether Rosneft’s acquisition of Citgo’s U.S.-based assets would violate economic sanctions against Russia.

Rosneft has been subject to U.S. sanctions since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Its executive chairman, Igor Sechin, has also been blocked from the U.S. financial system, The Hill reported.

“The Treasury Department must immediately determine the likelihood of Rosneft acquiring a controlling stake in Citgo,” the senators wrote, The Hill reported.

“Reports suggest that a license could be required for Citgo to continue orderly operations should Rosneft take control. If that is the case, it would appear that, barring the license, the transaction would necessarily result in one or more sanctions violations.”

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