PARAMARIBO, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Suriname has tapped French investment bank Lazard Ltd to help the South American nation refinance its foreign debt, President Chan Santokhi said on Thursday.
The priority will be to seek a rescheduling and restructuring of two loans from investment bank Oppenheimer, Santokhi said at a news conference.
“It’s an amount of 550 million (U.S. dollars) plus 125 million in loans that the previous government had made, that we need to reschedule and bring them to a proportionally acceptable level,” Santokhi said.
Lazard will provide support for negotiations with international lenders including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and will be tasked with helping find new capital for investment in Suriname, Santokhi said.
The country’s central bank last month sharply devalued the Suriname dollar as the government’s finances have been stretched thin as following heavy spending by the previous administration.
The country’s chief prosecutor is investigating former Finance Minister Gilmore Hoefdraad for alleged corruption and fraud. Three bank directors have been arrested for corruption.
Hoefdraad has denied wrongdoing.
Suriname’s foreign debt stands at around $4 billion, with debt service absorbing large amounts of government income. (Reporting by Ank Kuipers; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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