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 MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Trump at Davos warns Europe on trade | President boasts about US economy to global elite | Experts say Trump trade victories may yield little growth 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 PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid 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 TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE and several other world leaders have recognized Guaidó's leadership in Venezuela amid an economic and humanitarian crisis in the country.