UPDATE 2-Top adviser to Puerto Rico governor resigns, 'in no way pressured'

(Updates with more comment from Sanchez and Rossello, background)

July 20 (Reuters) - Elias Sanchez, a trusted adviser to Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello and the governors liaison to Puerto Ricos financial oversight board, said on Thursday he has resigned from his post.

Sanchez, who was effectively the face of the Puerto Rican government on issues concerning the islands massive debt restructuring, said in an interview that he wanted to focus on opportunities in the field of law. Sanchez is a lawyer by trade.

"Right now Im evaluating every alternative that I might have," in Puerto Rico and Central and South America, Sanchez said in a phone interview on Thursday morning.

Puerto Rico is in a historic economic crisis, with $72 billion in debt it cannot repay, a 45 percent poverty rate, and insolvent public pensions. Its finances are under the oversight of a federal board, given the task of helping the island craft and follow a blueprint for its fiscal turnaround.

As Rossellos liaison to the board, Sanchez had become a favorite target of investors unhappy with potential cuts to debt repayment.

Sanchez insists the decision to resign was his alone. "In no way was I pressured by anyone," he said.

"Theres always going to be people who, whenever they want to channel a feeling they have, they do it in the form of an attack, but Im very comfortable with everything I did on the board, which was being a voice representing the best interests of the people of Puerto Rico," Sanchez said.

In a statement issued in Spanish, Governor Rossello praised Sanchezs great professional skills.

I wish to thank for his willingness to serve Puerto Rico, his commitment to our administration and, on a personal level, our respect and esteem, Rossello said.

As a non-voting member on the board, Sanchez did not have a direct role in board decisions. However, he acted as the governor's eyes, ears and voice on the board, helping the governor form positions on financial matters, and communicating them to the board and the public.

Sanchez said no decision has been made on a replacement as Rossello's liaison, a choice he said was the governor's alone. The position is unpaid, and Sanchez was technically not a government employee.


In May, the U.S. territory filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. municipal history, sparking hard-fought litigation between the board and Puerto Ricos creditors over the fates of the islands agencies and the loans that back them.

The oversight board, created under the federal 2016 Puerto Rico rescue law dubbed PROMESA, certified a turnaround blueprint for Puerto Rico in March.

Sanchez said he had always envisioned leaving once the plan was in place.

There wasnt an aspiration to be part of the board the whole term, he said. Its a lot of work, a lot of issues that take up a lot of time.

The board and Rossellos administration have not always seen eye to eye, with the governor resisting some of the boards proposed austerity measures.

Sanchez attributed the tension to growing pains associated with a new framework.

Puerto Rico had never had something like before, he said. Were we not aligned in certain circumstances? Yes ... In the net, its been a positive experience. (Reporting by Nicholas Brown in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Daniel Bases)