(Reuters) - The United States imposed sanctions on Tuesday against Venezuela’s state-run mining company Minerven and its president، Adrian Perdomo، in a bid to further cut off funding to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The announcement came days after Uganda said it was investigating its biggest gold refinery for importing Venezuelan gold. Washington has warned gold traders not to deal in Venezuelan gold or oil.
“The illegitimate Maduro regime is pillaging the wealth of Venezuela while imperiling indigenous people by encroaching on protected areas and causing deforestation and habitat loss،” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido، who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January، saying Maduro’s re-election was not legitimate، has sought to prevent the gold sales، arguing that Maduro uses the proceeds to try to stay solvent.
Maduro is under intense pressure to step down، with Venezuela in a deep economic crisis and the government facing widespread international condemnation for an election last year that has been seen as fraudulent.
Most Western countries have backed Guaido as Venezuela’s head of state.