The United States Department of the Treasury issued financial sanctions against seven Venezuelan individuals and 23 corporate entities in a move that Washington claims is aimed at tackling corruption in the country. Among the sanctioned entities is Globovision, one of the largest television networks in the country.
In a lengthy statement, the Treasury explained that the sanctions target “a significant corruption scheme” that exploits Venezuela’s multi-tiered currency exchange system, allowing the conspirators to “generate more than $2.4 billion in corrupt proceeds”.
The seven sanctioned individuals are:
- Raul Gorrin Belisario: Indicted by a U.S. court in August 2018 in relation to a $1 billion bribery scheme involving PDVSA, the state-owned oil company.
- Claudia Patricia Diaz Guilen: National Treasurer from 2011 to 2013.
- Adrian Jose Velasquez Figueroa: Claudia Patricia’s husband; worked in conjunction with her.
- Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan: One of the alleged front-men in the scheme.
- Gustavo Adolfo Perdomo Rosales: Gorrin’s brother-in-law and business partner.
- Maria Alexandra Perdomo Rosales (Maria Alexandra): Gorrin’s wife; controls some of his assets.
- Mayela Antonina Tarascio-Perez (Mayela Antonina): Perdomo’s wife; controls some of his assets.
The Treasury alleges that the seven individuals siphoned billions of dollars through Venezuela’s currency exchange system, in which the government sells currency at artificially low prices to–on paper–essential industries and importers. The money was then “invested in domestic and international property, aircraft, yachts, horses, and other luxury goods”.
The individuals are also alleged to have used “a network of corporate entities and structures” to hide the flow of the money, including the Globovision television network.
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said on the sanctions:
Our actions against this corrupt currency exchange network expose yet another deplorable practice that Venezuela regime insiders have used to benefit themselves at the expense of the Venezuelan people. The United States remains committed to holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline, and will continue to use diplomatic and economic tools to support the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy.
National Security Adviser John Bolton also commented on the sanctions, saying:
Gunfire, Sirens in Caracas’ 23 de enero
Gunfire and sirens pierced the air in Caracas’ 23 de enero area this afternoon, apparently as part of a military defense exercise that was taking place nearby.
Twitter users shared videos and images of individuals on the rooftops of the neighbourhood’s iconic superblocks firing weapons into the air and starting fires. The fires appear to have been set as a kind of warning signal, presumably as part of some kind of defensive military maneuver.
Below, a video of fires atop the 23 de enero superblocks:
In the nearby Cuartel de la Montaña, members of the National Bolviarian Militia and armed staged a march. The two events were likely related.
Below, images and a video of the militia march:
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