OFAC designates Venezuelan Moron brothers for involvement in regime ‘corruption’
The United States has designated Venezuelan brothers Santiago Jose Moron Hernandez and Ricardo Jose Moron Hernandez, accusing them of ‘sustained support of corruption’ and involvement in an illicit gold scheme. The designations come as Washington continues to pile pressure on President Nicolas Maduro and his circle.
In a 23 July statement announcing the designations, the US Department of the Treasury said that ‘members of the Moron Hernandez family are trusted partners of Nicolas Maduro and his son, Maduro Guerra,’ who was designated in July 2017 and again a year later.
All of the designations by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) have been under Executive Order 13692, issued in March 2015.
‘Santiago and Ricardo distribute assets for Nicolas Maduro and his family throughout the world,’ the Treasury Department said. ‘Maduro Guerra hired Santiago and Ricardo to conduct business on his behalf… Santiago is Maduro Guerra’s principal assistant and regularly accompanies him while Ricardo handles operational activities.’
Treasury identified the three as ‘central figures in Venezuela’s gold industry’. It said that Maduro Guerra is accused of ‘conducting illicit transactions, including the sale of gold mined in Venezuela and dispatched from the Central Bank of Venezuela,’ which was designated by OFAC in April 2019. ‘Santiago and Ricardo oversee the financial mechanism of the illicit gold scheme,’ it said.
‘Santiago is being designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Maduro Guerra. Ricardo is being designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela,’ according to the statement.
The designations mean that all property and interests in property of the two brothers that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by the designated individuals, are also blocked.
As of 1 June of this year, the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on at least 144 Venezuelan or Venezuela-connected individuals and the US State Department has revoked the visas of hundreds of individuals and their families. The Trump administration also has imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan government, the central bank and the state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (‘PdVSA’).