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In final parting shot, Trump hits Venezuela with sanctions


Caracas (Venezuela), Jan 20: The Trump administration issued a parting shot to Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday, announcing a sweeping round of stiff financial sanctions that target a network accused of moving oil on behalf of the president alleged frontman.

Donald Trump

The U.S. Treasury Department hit three individuals, 14 business entities and six ships with financial measures.

They''re accused of assisting the Venezuelan oil firm PDVSA, under Maduro''s control, of outmaneuvering earlier U.S. sanctions designed to stop the president from profiting from crude sales.

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Trump, who leaves the White House on Wednesday, has led an international coalition over the last two years by exerting increasing pressure on Maduro to end what U.S. officials call his illegitimate hold on power.

The White House recognizes Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the nation''s legitimate leader, blaming Maduro for Venezuela''s economic and political ruin.

"The United States remains committed to targeting those enabling the Maduro regime''s abuse of Venezuela''s natural resources," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

The fresh sanctions target people and businesses linked with Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who U.S. officials say is linked with Maduro. Saab is jailed in the African nation of Cape Verde while fighting extradition to the U.S. to face corruption charges.

The primary figures targeted by the sanctions are Alessandro Bazzoni, Francisco Javier D''Agostino Casado, Philipp Paul Vartan Apikian, Elemento Ltd., and Swissoil Trading SA (Swissoil).

Bazzoni, a London-based Italian commodities trader, declined a request by The Associated Press to comment.

Sanctions by the U.S. Treasury''s Department''s Office of Foreign Assets Control block any assets that targeted individuals and businesses have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from conducting financial transactions with them.

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