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Monday, 24 January, 2022

The US sanctions the brother-in-law of top opposition politicians for helping Maduro evade oil sanctions

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By Carlos Camacho in Caracas.

Henry Ramos Allup -who is still a lawmaker with the Accion Democratica party and is married to D’Agostino’s sister, Diana D’Agostino- was in 2016 designated as the President of the National Assembly. But even though he opposed Maduro, the Trump Administration did not spare him, not even on its last day.

You must read Research reveals that Saab leads a network that violates sanctions on Venezuelan oil sales

D’Agostino Casado, who holds dual Venezuelan and Spanish nationality, is also the son in law of Victor Vargas, the Venezuelan banker married into Spanish aristocracy and now to see part of his banking empire crumble afterward, amongst allegations of bank fraud.

Saab has been sitting in a Cape Verde jail cell since June 2020 and will get extradited to the US. His accomplice, renowned money-laundering expert and college professor, Bruce Bagley, is already serving a 10-year sentence since he was convicted last year.

D’Agostino, together with designated accomplices Alessandro Bazzoni and Philipp Paul Vartan Apikian, had “ties to a network attempting to evade United States sanctions on the oil sector in Venezuela,” Treasury stated on Tuesday announcing their designation.

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“The illegitimate Maduro regime has continued to use Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as its primary conduit for corruption to exploit and profit from the Venezuelan natural resources,” Treasury argued.

The three men, fourteen entities, and six vessels also employed the talents of accused money launderer Saab “to broker the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of Venezuelan oil,” according to the US.

“Those facilitating the illegitimate attempts of the Maduro’s regime to circumvent United States sanctions contribute to the corruption that consumes Venezuela,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Tied to the D’Agostino scheme, on June 18, 2020, OFAC designated a group of Mexican nationals and companies “for operating a sanctions-evasion scheme benefitting the illegitimate Maduro regime and PDVSA.”

According to Treasury, most likely after the designation “the illegitimate Maduro regime, PdVSA, and Saab enlisted Libre Abordo and Leal in a scheme designed to evade US sanctions. Leal served as the conduit between the Mexico-based network and Saab, D’Agostino, and Bazzoni,” the three men designated today.

The 14 entities designated include the Mexican firms and firms in Malta, Geneva, and Zimbabwe, including the Elemento company and its subsidiaries.

“Based in Valletta, Malta, Elemento has operated in the global oil sector since at least 2017. Elemento has purchased oil from PdVSA and then resold it to third-party customers on behalf of Bazzoni,” Treasury stated.

Swissoil and subsidiaries were also designated. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the company “participated in the scheme by assisting in the sale and shipping of Venezuelan-origin crude oil to buyers in Asia. Swissoil often acted as the consignee, or the entity financially responsible for the receipt of a shipment, for oil shipments brokered by Elemento. Swissoil was also the recipient of at least one shipment of Venezuelan oil in Asia. Swissoil was designated today for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy and because it has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of PdVSA.”

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