Washington hit Venezuela’s state-run mining company with sanctions on Tuesday, accusing “illegitimate” leader Nicolás Maduro of promoting and capitalizing on illegal gold mining to prop up his embattled administration.
In a statement, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, said it was sanctioning the Venezuelan General Mining Company, Minerven, and its president, Adrian Antonio Perdomo.
Under the Treasury designation, Minerven and Perdomo’s assets in the United States will be frozen and U.S. citizens and residents are prohibited from doing business with them.
Treasury says Maduro and his security forces control the crime-riddled area in southern Venezuela where makeshift and illegal mining is running rampant. While the government buys the gold in devalued bolivares it’s selling the gold on the international market for desperately needed hard currency.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“The mining and subsequent sale of gold has been one of the Maduro regime’s most lucrative financial schemes in recent years, as hundreds of thousands of miners have mined for gold in dangerous, makeshift mines in southern Venezuela, all of which are controlled by the Venezuelan military, which, in turn, corruptly charges criminal organizations for access,” the department said.
The crackdown comes as Washington is trying to economically asphyxiate the Maduro government, which it considers illegitimate. Most recently, the Trump administration essentially blocked Venezuelan oil sales to the United States — a critical economic lifeline for the South American country.
The United States...