US targets Russian bank behind Venezuela's 'petro' currency for violating PDVSA sanctions
By Meghan Gordon / Platts
Petroleumworld 03 11 2019
The US Treasury Department on Monday accused a Moscow-based bank of violating US sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA, signaling the Trump administration plans to go after foreign companies that have not cut ties to the Maduro government.
The targeted bank, Evrofinance Mosnarbank, is owned jointly by Russian and Venezuelan state-owned companies.
Treasury said Evrofinance's net assets grew more than 50% last year as it continued to "maintain its significant relationship with the illegitimate" Maduro regime.
Evrofinance was the primary international financial institution in 2018 willing to finance the petro, Venezuela's failed cryptocurrency, Treasury said. The department said early investors were invited to buy the currency by wiring funds to a Venezuelan government account at Evrofinance.
"Evrofinance's involvement in the petro demonstrated Maduro's hope that the Petro would allow Venezuela to circumvent US financial sanctions," Treasury said.
The Treasury said the bank was continuing to support PDVSA, which it said has "long been a vehicle or corruption, embezzlement and money laundering by Maduro and his cronies."
"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," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez bought a 49% stake in Evrofinance in 2011.
Treasury added the bank to its Specially Designated Nationals list of individuals and companies whose US assets are blocked. US citizens are banned from dealing with those on the list.
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Story by Meghan Gordon from Platts / SPGlobal.
spglobal.com 03 11 2019
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