The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s development bank Bandes, a day after the Trump administration warned there would be consequences for the arrest of opposition leader Juan Guaido’s top aide.
The U.S. Treasury said it was slapping the sanctions on the Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, including its subsidiaries in Uruguay and Bolivia.
“(President Nicolas) Maduro and his enablers have distorted the original purpose of the bank … as part of a desperate attempt to hold onto power,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement announcing the action.
Guaido, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, has accused Bandes of being used by officials of Maduro’s government to steal funds.
The U.S. Treasury said Maduro tried to move $1 billion out of Venezuela through Banco Bandes Uruguay in early 2019.
Bandes has received billions of dollars over the past decade from the China Development Bank, in exchange for oil, which the Venezuelan government used to fund infrastructure projects.
The sanctions freeze assets belonging to the bank and its subsidiaries, and prevent U.S. citizens from any dealings with Bandes.
The announcement comes after Venezuelan authorities detained Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, on Thursday in a pre-dawn raid, sparking vows of reprisals from the United States, which backs Guaido.