U.S. sanctions 10 Venezuelans for election irregularities

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 10, 2017 at 11:17 AM
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Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on Friday against 10 Venezuelan government officials it says interfered with the country's elections last month.

Those targeted are all current or former government personnel or leaders of state-run industries in Venezuela, whose elections were marked by voting irregularities, the Treasury Department said in a statement. It noted that the ruling United Socialist Party of President Nicolas Maduro unexpectedly won a majority of governorship races.

"Despite calls for an independent audit of the election results, the Venezuelan government proceeded to swear in the winning candidates," the Treasury added. "In addition, the environment in which these elections were held, including censorship, the abuse of state media, and rampant corruption ... raises questions concerning the freedom and fairness of the electoral process."

Among those sanctioned are members of Venezuela's elections commission, legislators, the former culture and communications minister, a telecommunications executive who allegedly blocked certain websites prior to the election and Osario Zambrano, who's accused of being complicit in "swindling the state" out of up to $573 million through corruption in Venezuela's food program.

The sanctions freeze assets of the 10 individuals, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Americans are barred from dealing with them.

Friday's action follows a sanction order in August to pressure Venezuela to restore its constitutional democracy.

Trump's order called for a prohibition on debt and equity transactions with Caracas and its state-run oil company, though it did not place an embargo on Venezuelan oil exports to the United States.

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