CARACAS – Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly has identified $3.2 billion of funds being held at 20 bank accounts in the U.S. from President Nicolas Maduro’s government that it’s working to safeguard with the help of Donald Trump’s administration.
The U.S. government said in late January that some Venezuelan government accounts had been frozen and could be handed over to Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly who says he’s the legitimate leader of the South American nation. No details about the amounts were ever given.
The figures released on Monday came from Carlos Paparoni, the head of the assembly’s finance committee during a press conference in Caracas. The parliament is working globally to try to secure state resources, he said.
“The National Assembly has reached out to 152 banks from the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Asia, including central and private banks, to request the freezing of government accounts,” Paparoni said.
Despite not having control of courts, the military or the oil industry, Guaido’s broad international support has allowed him to lean on foreign governments to help identify and freeze some assets as Maduro tries to work around tightening sanctions designed to choke his authoritarian regime off from much-needed dollars.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry and Finance Ministry didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lobbying efforts have prompted the Bank of England to deny Maduro’s request to repatriate some $1.2 billion of gold and Guaido has named a new board for U.S. refiner Citgo in an attempt to secure control of the Houston-based company, which is owned by the Venezuelan state. Reuters reported that Venezuelan accounts held at Gazprombank were frozen, citing a person with knowledge of the developments.
The government has also been moving funds to three recently opened Bandes accounts in Uruguay, Paparoni said, without explaining how he obtained the information. Bandes, a Venezuelan state-run development bank, is the owner of Banco Bandes Uruguay.