US Imposes Sanctions On Russian Financier Of Venezuela’s Petro

The United States imposed sanctions on a Russian Bank that helped finance the Venezuelan state cryptocurrency Petro, which was part of the Nicolas Maduro government’s attempt to circumvent Washington’s economic pressure on the country.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a Moscow-based bank that is jointly owned by Russian and Venezuelan state-owned companies, for supporting Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PdVSA), which has already been targeted by Washington for corruption, embezzlement, and money laundering by the Maduro regime.

Announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said, “The illegitimate Maduro regime has profited off of the suffering of the Venezuelan people”. “This action demonstrates that the United States will take action against foreign financial institutions that sustain the illegitimate Maduro regime and contribute to the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis plaguing the people of Venezuela.”

The sanctions prohibit US citizens and entities from doing business with Evrofinance and freeze its assets under US jurisdiction.

As more than 50 countries, including the United States, have recognized Opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s Interim President, the Maduro government is increasingly isolated and desperate for financial lifelines from its ally Russia.

Evrofinance was founded as a bi-national bank to fund joint Russia-Venezuela oil and infrastructure projects.

The bank’s assets had soared by 50 per cent in 2018, and was a key point of support for the Maduro government’s failed effort to create a national cryptocurrency, the petro, last year.

Early investors in the Petro were invited to buy the cryptocurrency by wiring funds to a Venezuelan government account at Evrofinance.

In March last year, the US Government had banned Americans from purchasing or dealing with any cryptocurrency issued by Venezuela, and imposed a fresh round of sanctions targeting Venezuelan government associates.

Inflation in the socialist nation has spiraled, creating food shortages. The national currency bolivar has lost its value.

The Government claimed its oil-backed cryptocurrency raised $5 billion, but the Opposition-controlled National Assembly declared the Petro as illegitimate.

While Venezuela is in the midst of an economic and humanitarian collapse caused by corruption and mismanagement, major U.S. and European-based financial institutions have cut off ties with the Maduro regime.

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