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US sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest

The Trump administration on Friday announced new sanctions against Venezuela's national development bank after an aide to opposition leader Juan Guaidó was arrested this week.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is imposing sanctions on the Venezuelan bank and its subsidiaries, with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Katie Porter in heated exchange with Mnuchin: 'You're play-acting to be a lawyer' MORE saying they have become "vehicles" to "prop up" Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

"The willingness of Maduro’s inner-circle to exploit Venezuela’s institutions knows no bounds. Regime insiders have transformed BANDES and its subsidiaries into vehicles to move funds abroad in an attempt to prop up Maduro," Mnuchin said in a statement, referring to Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES).

“The regime’s continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international coalition that is united behind President Guaidó," Mnuchin added.

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The statement said that any property in the U.S. or owned by U.S. citizens, where BANDES or its subsidiaries have a controlling interest, is now "blocked."

The Treasury secretary reiterated that Roberto Marrero, Guaidó's chief-of-staff, and other political prisoners in Venezuela "must be released immediately.”

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS to temporarily withdraw some embassy personnel in Baghdad: report Pompeo to host indoor holiday parties at State Department despite warning to employees to hold some missions virtually The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Pressure builds as UK approves COVID-19 vaccine MORE called for Marrero's release on Thursday after the Guaidó aide was detained by Maduro's security forces. 

Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's interim president in January, escalating a political battle with Maduro, who still claims the presidency.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE and several other world leaders have recognized Guaidó's leadership in Venezuela amid an economic and humanitarian crisis in the country.