Foe of Venezuela's Chavez Seeks $1 Billion for Seizures

A wealthy Venezuelan businessman who opposes President Hugo Chavez is seeking $1 billion in damages in a lawsuit filed against the Chavez government in federal court in Miami.

The lawsuit filed by Nelson J. Mezerhane claims the socialist Chavez government illegally took over a bank he owned in the country in June 2010. The lawsuit claims that happened because he refused to surrender his 20 percent stake in Globovision, the only TV network aligned with Chavez's opposition.

The government eventually seized those shares, the bank and 33 other Mezerhane assets and properties.

Mezerhane's attorneys say the government takeovers violate both U.S. and international law. Mezerhane is living in South Florida and seeking political asylum in the U.S.

Venezuelan officials did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.