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US Imposes Sanctions on 4 Venezuela Figures over Corruption

US Imposes Sanctions on 4 Venezuela Figures over Corruption

Friday, 5 January, 2018 - 18:30
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (Reuters)

The United States slapped sanctions on Friday against four Venezuelan officials over corruption and mismanagement of the country’s food supply.

The US Treasury said in a statement that it had put the former food minister, Rodolfo Marco, who is also a former finance minister appointed by President Nicolas Maduro, on its Venezuela sanctions list.

It also listed Francisco Rangel, a former governor of Bolivar state; Fabio Zavarse Pabon, a commander in the national armed forces; and Gerardo Izquierdo Torres, a state minister.

The Associated Press last year collected documents and testimony from business owners describing Marco Torres, a former Venezuelan food minister, as a key figure involved in fraudulent food imports.

“President Maduro and his inner circle continue to put their own interests above those of the Venezuelan people,” US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

“This action underscores the United States’ resolve to hold Maduro and others engaged in corruption in Venezuela accountable.”

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Treasury action freezes any assets the men have under US jurisdiction and bars US citizens from dealing with them.

The move is Washington’s latest action targeting individual politicians and security figures for what US President Donald Trump has called an erosion of democracy. Venezuela is reeling from an economic crisis, with millions struggling with food and medicine shortages.

Maduro regularly laughs off Washington’s disapproval and blames the US “empire” for Venezuela’s economic woes.

Those sanctioned Friday are in addition to the dozens of current and former Venezuelan officials the US already has targeted. They include Vice President Tareck El Aissami for alleged involvement in international drug trafficking.

The US also has imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela at a time it is seeking to refinance a huge international debt.

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