U.S. Sanctions Firms, Tankers It Accuses of Exporting Venezuelan Oil

Gene Naumovsky

The U.S. continues to crack down on Venezuelan oil corruption with new sanctions.

More than 12 individuals, along with their businesses and tankers, were blacklisted by the Trump administration on Thursday over allegations of being involved in up to 40 percent of Venezuela’s crude-oil exports over the last few weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The sanctions were announced by the U.S. Treasury Department in a report on an alleged attempt by the Maduro regime to manipulate state resources into personal accounts. A senior U.S. Treasury official stated that the private sector took emergency measures to halt Venezuela transactions. Two of four recently sanctioned companies, as well as their tankers, were reapproved by the U.S. as they left Venezuelan associations. The official commented on the sanction reversal, calling it effective in the administration’s goals to squeeze the funding of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime. Companies are now cutting ties with Venezuela as the Trump administration cracks down on Maduro’s business connections.

The Treasury also reported that Colombian businessman Alex Saab was detained in Cape Verde after Interpol notified officials of his U.S. indictment over alleged money-laundering charges. Saab also managed Mexico-based trade company Libre Abordo S.A. de C.V.’s operations.

One of the companies blacklisted, Libre Abordo was supposed to transport food to Venezuela in exchange for crude exports, but the last few weeks no shipment of food, only $300 million of oil, were transported. The Trump administration says that libre Abordo, in addition to an associated firm, managed 30 million barrels of Venezuelan crude for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., a state oil firm accused of money-laundering vehicles for Maduro’s regime.

Deputy Secretary of Treasury Justin Muzinich spoke on the sanctions, saying, “The U.S. will continue to relentlessly pursue sanctions evaders who plunder Venezuela’s resources for personal gain at the expense of the Venezuelan people.”

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