Goldman Sachs (GS) has confirmed it bought Venezuelan bonds after being excoriated by the country’s opposition for financing the embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing sustained protests.
The president of the opposition-led Congress accused the bank of financing “dictatorship” after the Wall Street Journal reported Goldman had bought $2.8 billion in bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA at a steep discount.
“We bought these bonds, which were issued in 2014, on the secondary market from a broker and did not interact with the Venezuelan government,” Goldman wrote in a statement late on Monday.
“We recognize that the situation is complex and evolving and that Venezuela is in crisis. We agree that life there has to get better, and we made the investment in part because we believe it will.”
The statement did not include the price of the bonds or the amount purchased.
With Venezuela’s inefficient state-led economic model struggling under lower oil prices, Maduro’s unpopular government has become ever more dependent on financial deals or asset sales to bring in coveted foreign exchange.
Many economists say the only way to improve the country’s situation is to scrap price and currency control systems that have hobbled the private sector.
Maduro’s critics have for two months been staging street protests, which have left nearly 60 people dead, to demand that he hold early elections. Maduro says the protests are a violent effort to overthrow his government, and insists the country is victim of an “economic war” supported by Washington.