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US blacklists two companies, 35 ships related to Venezuela’s oil sector

April 06, 2:37 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

US citizens and companies are prohibited from maintaining business contacts with the blacklisted companies

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© AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Prensa Latina

WASHINGTON, April 6. /TASS/. The United States blacklisted two companies and 35 vessels related to Venezuela’s oil sector, the US Department of the Treasury said on Friday.

Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two companies operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy," the department said in a statement. "Additionally, OFAC identified one vessel, which transported oil from Venezuela to Cuba, as blocked property that is owned by one of these companies."

The sanctioned companies are Liberia-registered Ballito Bay Shipping Incorporated and Greek-registered ProPer In Management Incorporated.

Separately, OFAC identified 34 vessels as blocked property of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), which was designated on January 28, 2019, for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy.

"Cuba has been an underlying force fueling Venezuela’s descent into crisis. Treasury is taking action against vessels and entities transporting oil, providing a lifeline to keep the illegitimate Maduro regime afloat," the statement quoted Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin as saying.

US citizens and companies are prohibited from maintaining business contacts with the blacklisted companies. Their business assets in the United States will be frozen.

Tightening the noose

Additional US sanctions against Venezuela’s oil sector were imposed on Friday on a request from the country’s opposition, a high-ranking US administration official told reporters during a phone briefing.

"We acted upon a request from the Venezuelan National Assembly," the official said.

The US Department of the Treasury said on Friday its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blacklisted two companies operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy - the Liberia-registered Ballito Bay Shipping Incorporated and Greek-registered ProPer In Management Incorporated - and identified one vessel, which transported oil from Venezuela to Cuba, as "blocked property that is owned by one of these companies." Separately, OFAC identified 34 vessels as blocked property of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), which was designated on January 28, 2019, for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy.

"With this, we are continuing to tighten the noose… for the financial strangulation of Maduro and his cronies. We will continue moving in that direction. We will continue to see action coming in days and weeks ahead," the US official said.

He said the Caracas government has been "increasing threats against [opposition leader] Juan Guaido" recently as a "sign of desperation."

Venezuela political crisis

Venezuela has been going through a social-economic crisis over the last years, accompanied by hyperinflation and devaluation of national currency. The situation was further complicated this year when the confrontation between the government and their political opponents became more acute.

Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas on January 23. Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him as president. Venezuela's incumbent President Nicolas Maduro blasted these actions as an attempted coup and said that he was cutting diplomatic ties with the United States.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.

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