Four nation agree to combat Caracas graft
Colombia’s Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas hosted a meeting with officials from Mexico, Panama, and the US to share information on Venezuelan government officials suspected of corruption and their support networks.
During a meeting in the coastal city of Cartagena, the four nations agreed to expand cooperation to fight illegal financial networks in crisis-wracked Venezuela, according to the countries’ joint statement released by UIAF, Colombia’s government body that looks into suspicious money movements and sends them for investigation.
The Opec nation has already been hit with economic sanctions by Canada, the US and a number of other countries over issues ranging from human rights violations to corruption and drug trafficking.
The rule of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who took office in 2013, has coincided with a deep recession caused in part by a plunge in global oil prices and failed state-led economic policies.
“Participants recognised the importance of international coordination to combat illicit finance networks that support President Maduro’s repressive regime,” the UIAF statement said.
Maduro, who won re-election on May 20 in a vote the main opposition coalition boycotted, says Venezuela is a victim of an “economic war” led by his adversaries with Washington’s help.
He says sanctions are part of efforts by foreign countries to undermine his government.
The UIAF statement also accused Venezuela of using food and humanitarian aid as a weapon for social control and said there was “large-scale theft” of funds from the Venezuelan food aid programme (CLAP).
Venezuelan army officials and others tasked with distributing food amid widespread shortages have long been suspected of stealing or misappropriating governmentrelated funds, often with the help of businesses and individuals based outside of the country.