US puts foreign financial institutions on notice of sanctions if they deal with Maduro

Washington has warned foreign financial institutions that they might face repercussions if they facilitate transactions that benefit the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, which the US called “illegitimate.”

“The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network,”  the US National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a statement released by the White House. He repeated the earlier threat by US special envoy Elliott Abrams.

Washington also once again said that it “strongly supports” what it called “democratic transition in Venezuela” led by the self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido, who has been enjoying consistent support from the US and some of its allies ever since he announced his leadership bid.

The national security advisor also said that the US “is pursuing several new diplomatic and economic initiatives in support of that transition” but did not reveal any specific details.

Washington has been long tightening its economic grip on the defiant Latin American state. Apart from hitting Caracas with numerous sanctions that contributed to the economic woes of Venezuela, the US also “confiscated” $30 billion from the Latin American nation, according to the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.

Washington has offered $20 million in humanitarian aid to Venezuela, but the Maduro government has rejected it on the grounds that it could be a Trojan horse to smuggle weapons into the country — a tactic the US has used in the region in the past.

The US government also transferred control to some of the seized Venezuelan assets over to Guaido.

Apart from that, the Bank of England blocked Venezuela’s attempts to retrieve $1.2 billion worth of gold stored as the nation’s foreign reserves in the UK in late January. After the US imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, Maduro ordered its European headquarters to be relocated to Moscow, apparently fearing that the US or its allies might try and confiscate its European assets as well.