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CARACAS, April 24 (Reuters) - The finance committee of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly on Wednesday authorized a $71 million interest payment on state-owned oil company PDVSA's 2020 bond, which is backed by shares in its crown jewel overseas asset, U.S. refiner Citgo.
The full parliament is expected to vote on the payment next week. The interest payment is due on April 27, but there is a 30-day grace period. Failure to make the payment could pave the way for creditors to attempt to seize up to half of Citgo's shares as compensation.
President Nicolas Maduro's cash-strapped government has remained current on the PDVSA 2020 bond payments even as it defaulted on some $8 billion in other debt. But recent U.S. sanctions on PDVSA, intended to force Maduro to resign, could prevent any Maduro-linked entity from making the payment.
Earlier this month, the National Assembly - recognized by the United States as Venezuela's legitimate democratic body - authorized a parallel ad-hoc PDVSA board to negotiate the company's debt. It was unclear what funds the board planned to use to pay bondholders.
Venezuela was plunged into a deep power struggle in January when Juan Guaido, the National Assembly's leader, invoked the country's constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet seeking to oust him in a coup and has accused the opposition of trying to "steal" Citgo. (Reporting by Mayela Armas Writing by Luc Cohen)