2018-04-11ft.com

Venezuela stopped paying bondholders in September, according to central bank data, contradicting statements by President Nicol√°s Maduro that the country would continue to honour its debts while negotiating a resettlement with its creditors.The data show that regular foreign debt payments of hundreds of millions of dollars a month, in line with the country's sovereign obligations, fell to a few tens of millions from last October for fees and the legacy of a 1980s-era restructuring."This proves that Venezuela is deliberately hoodwinking bondholders and engaging in a stealth default," said Russ Dallen of boutique bank Caracas Capital, who follows Venezuelan debt closely.The data were posted in an Excel file as part of a recent revamp of the central bank's website and include monthly expenditures in US dollars on public foreign debt payments going back to 1996. Previously, data on foreign debt payments were published in the form of a ratio that revealed little information, Mr Dallen said. "This must have been posted by an intern," he added.

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The central bank data, which cover payments of sovereign debt only and exclude obligations by PDVSA and other state entities, show that just $83m was paid in October, compared with sovereign obligations amounting to $465m, according to data from Caracas Capital.Payments in November fell to $28m, compared with obligations of $183m, and in December declined to $23m, compared with obligations of $242m.

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"They have been doing it [defaulting] strategically to sow confusion. They have said they have begun the process of paying things they clearly did not pay, and blamed it all on sanctions."The US has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan individuals and institutions. Adding to pressures last August, it also banned any involvement in new bonds or shares issued by the government or PDVSA. Last month it prohibited involvement in the country's proposed digital currency, the petro, as well



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