Venezuela opposition calls for release of $3.2B in funds held in US

Venezuela's National Assembly, held by the country's opposition party, has identified more than $3 billion in funds in U.S. bank accounts it says the interim Venezuelan government should be allowed to access.

At a press conference Monday, the assembly's finance committee chairman told reporters that the interim government established by self-appointed interim President Juan Guaidó had requested access to 152 bank accounts controlled by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, according to Bloomberg.

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Maduro has refused to step down from power despite increasing international pressure and support for Guaidó. Maduro's government maintains the support of the country's Supreme Court, as well as the military.

“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,” Carlos Paparoni, the finance committee chairman, told reporters, according to Bloomberg.

In total, $3.2 billion worth of Venezuelan funds had been identified by the committee, according to Paparoni.

The amount comes after the Trump administration announced earlier this year that it would support Guaidó's government and give the interim leader access to U.S. bank accounts previously controlled by Maduro's government. The amount held in the U.S. was not disclosed.

“This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” Robert Palladino, a State Department spokesman, said in late January.