UPDATE 1-U.S. extends protection for Citgo from creditors through January

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Sept 10 (Reuters) - The United States on Friday extended its protection of Venezuelan-owned U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp from possible seizure by creditors through Jan. 21, 2022, according to a notice on the Treasury Department’s website.

Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA put up a majority stake in the parent company of Citgo as collateral for its bond that matured in 2020, meaning bondholders could seek those shares as repayment in the event of default.

PDVSA missed a payment in 2019 in the wake of U.S. sanctions on the company. But Citgo is now controlled by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by Washington as the South American country’s legitimate president, and a seizure of the firm by creditors could damage Guaido’s political prospects.

A previous Treasury Department license protecting Citgo from creditors had been set to expire on Oct. 21, 2021.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, labeled a dictator by Washington, retains power in Caracas and controls PDVSA operations within the country. He has called U.S. sanctions “criminal” and accused the opposition of stealing Citgo from the government. (Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Mark Porter)