Investors ask trade group if Venezuela sovereign debt is in default

Venezuela begins refinancing its foreign debt

Standard & Poor's declares a "selective default" when a country has failed to pay one or more of its financial obligations when it came due.

Beijing and Moscow have emerged as Venezuela's most reliable sources of funding, with China owed $28 billion and Russian Federation $8 billion.

The agency said on Tuesday it didn't have high expectations for the country, assessing the chances of Venezuela defaulting again within a three-month grace period at 50 per cent, which would result in a "default" rating.

Besides the two bond payments it has defaulted on, Venezuela is overdue on four other debt payments but they were still within the 30 day grace period, S&P said.

Instead, the head of the Venezuelan commission, Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, read a statement blaming sanctions imposed by the United States for Venezuela's difficulties in making the payments.

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Restrictions include a ban on USA entities buying any new Venezuela debt issues - usually a required step in any restructuring. The government held a meeting with bondholders in Caracas on November 13 about a debt restructuring (generally considered akin to default), which is typically used to determine how much less investors will be paid than officially owed.

Mr Aissami, who has been accused of drug trafficking by the U.S., is himself on the list of Venezuelan individuals sanctioned by the U.S. treasury department.

Adding to the pressure on Maduro was the European Union's announcement of sanctions.

A default can be declared either by the major ratings agencies, big debt-holders or by the government itself.

Venezuela's envoy to the UN, Rafael Ramirez, called the meeting "illegal" and a "hostile" act "of interference" by the US.

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