Trump swipes at Fed during trip to Japan
Treasury targets Venezuelan central bank with sanctions
The Treasury Department on Wednesday targeted Venezuela's central bank under sanctions meant to financially starve President Nicolás Maduro and his government.
Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers financial sanctions, penalized the Central Bank of Venezuela and its director, Iliana Josefa Ruzza Terán, through two executive orders targeting the Maduro government and its allies.
Ruzza and the bank are now banned from the U.S. financial sector and will no longer be able to access any assets under U.S. jurisdiction. U.S. individuals and businesses are also prohibited from conducting financial transactions with Ruzza and the bank, and foreign parties who do so could also face sanctions.
"Treasury is designating the Central Bank of Venezuela to prevent it from being used as a tool of the illegitimate Maduro regime, which continues to plunder Venezuelan assets and exploit government institutions to enrich corrupt insiders," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.
The penalties are the latest effort by the Trump administration to deprive the Maduro government of funding and prevent top officials from plundering what remains of the country's wealth. The U.S. is among several nations that have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaído as the interim president of Venezuela and called on Maduro to relinquish control of the country.
Venezuela's economy has cratered amid political turmoil, hyperinflation and food shortages.
Mnuchin said that while the U.S. government is seeking to deprive Maduro and his allies from enriching themselves, the administration "has taken steps to ensure that regular debit and credit card transactions can proceed and personal remittances and humanitarian assistance continue unabated and are able to reach those suffering under the Maduro regime's repression."