A day before leaving power, the US government Donald Trump hit with sanctions on Tuesday members of a network allegedly led by Colombian businessman Alex Saab and whose objective was to commercialize Venezuelan crude while evading the penalties that Washington imposed on the state oil company PDVSA in 2019.
The US Administration, which sanctioned that network for the first time in June 2020, decided on Tuesday to update the measures and imposed economic constraints three individuals, 14 entities and 6 ships, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
According to Washington, this criminal network was led by the economic vice president of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami, and the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, an alleged front man of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and who is imprisoned in Cape Verde awaiting extraditation to the United States. , accused of money laundering.
“Those who facilitate the attempts of the illegitimate Maduro regime to circumvent US sanctions contribute to the corruption that Venezuela consumes,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Among those sanctioned is the Italian Alessandro Bazzoni, who was allegedly in charge of connecting two other sanctioned companies: Element, based in Malta and which was bought by PDVSA, and Swissoil, based in Switzerland and which was in charge of transporting Venezuelan crude to the Asian market.
Alex Saab, supposed front man of Nicolás Maduro
According to the Treasury, after the arrest in June 2020 of Saab in Cape Verde and the sanctions against the Mexican businessman Joaquín Leal, Bazzooni took over coordinating the negotiation for the resale of Venezuelan oil from PDVSA and the charter of vessels to transport the crude.
The Spanish-Venezuelan Francisco Javier D’Agostino Casado, who worked with Saab, Leal and Bazzoni to coordinate the purchase and sale of crude oil on behalf of PDVSA, has also been sanctioned.
The other designated by the Treasury is the Swiss Philipp Paul Vartan Apikian, owner and director of Swissoil, who, according to the US, has been involved in the sale and transportation of oil from Venezuela.
As a result of this Washington action, all property and assets that these individuals or companies may have in the US or are in the possession of Americans are blocked, and any transaction with them is prohibited.
Since arriving in the White House in 2017, the Trump administration has imposed numerous rounds of Economic sanctions against the Executive of Maduro, whom he considers “illegitimate.”
The United States has been one of the most loyal allies of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized in 2019 as interim president of Venezuela by more than fifty countries.
Source: EFE and AFP