Judge: Canadian firm can go after Venezuela's US refineries

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A Canadian gold mining firm has won the right to go after Venezuela's U.S.-based oil refineries to collect $1.4 billion that it lost in a take-over by the late-President Hugo Chavez.

Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark of the U.S. Federal District Court in Delaware made the ruling Thursday in favor of Crystallex.

Chavez took over the gold mining firm and many other international companies as part of his socialist revolution.

Russ Dallen of the brokerage firm Caracas Capital Markets says the ruling could set off a scramble by a list of creditors owed $65 billion in bonds that Venezuela has stopped paying within the last year.

Dallen says Crystallex's lawsuit makes it the lucky lottery winner because it got in line first.

Venezuela's economy is spiraling into a deepening crisis.