Ex-Venezuelan oil minister asks U.S. court to set aside $1.4 billion judgment
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez asked a federal judge in Houston on Monday to set aside a $1.4 billion default verdict against him in a fraud suit brought by a defunct Houston oil company, according to court documents. Ramirez, who was Venezuela's oil minister for 12 years and later served as its foreign minister and U.N.
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez asked a federal judge in Houston on Monday to set aside a $1.4 billion default verdict against him in a fraud suit brought by a defunct Houston oil company, according to court documents.
Ramirez, who was Venezuela's oil minister for 12 years and later served as its foreign minister and U.N. ambassador, said Harvest Natural Resources Inc and HNR Energia BV had failed to properly serve him notice of the lawsuit.
"Given that Ramirez was not properly served and that he lives in Europe out of the public eye, his default was not willful, and he has acted as expeditiously as he could to address the default in light of the issues caused by his being abroad," a court filing said.
Dane Ball, a partner with law firm Smyser Kaplan & Veselka LLP, which represents Harvest, declined to comment.
U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal issued the default judgment on Feb. 13 after Ramirez did not contest Harvest Natural Resources' claims, according to an opinion accompanying the ruling.
Harvest's suit claimed Venezuela had refused to allow the company to sell its assets in the country since 2012, leading it to lose $472 million. It accused Ramirez and others of seeking a $10 million bribe to approve the transaction.
Rosenthal initially awarded Harvest $472 million in damages in December, an amount he tripled in February.
Shares in Harvest ceased trading in May 2017 and the company began a three-year process of liquidating assets and winding up remaining issues from the close of the business.
Ramirez was appointed energy minister by late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002, serving in that job until 2014. He was briefly foreign minister under President Nicolas Maduro and later was the country's ambassador to the United Nations, but left after being accused of corruption by Venezuelan officials amid a purge of executives at state oil firm PDVSA.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Tom Brown)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.