By Agence France-Presse
The United States slapped sanctions Tuesday on a Venezuelan state mining company, charging that its illicit gold operations were being used to prop up President Nicolas Maduro and his inner circle.
The action was taken against CVG Compania General de Mineria de Venezuela CA, or Minerven, and its president Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata, the US Treasury Department said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Minerven and its president were targeted “for propping up the inner circle of the corrupt Maduro regime.”
“The illegitimate Maduro regime is pillaging the wealth of Venezuela while imperiling indigenous people by encroaching on protected areas and causing deforestation and habitat loss,” he said.
The sanctions were the latest in a series of US actions aimed at cutting off financing to Maduro in support of an opposition drive to force the leftist president from power.
They were announced as US President Donald Trump was meeting at the White House with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to discuss strategy toward Venezuela.
The United States and more than 50 other countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, as the country’s rightful president.
The US sanctions freeze Minerven’s assets and those of its president in the United States and bars Americans or US entities from doing business with them.
With Venezuela’s state oil company also under US sanctions and its economy in shambles from years of mismanagement, Treasury said Maduro has turned to gold mining as a crucial source of hard cash.
Minerven buys gold from miners working dangerous, makeshift mines in southern Venezuela that are controlled by the military. According to the Treasury, these operations have reaped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold since 2016.