The U.S. slapped sanctions Tuesday on a subsidiary of Russian energy firm Rosneft for allegedly helping to skirt sanctions on Venezuela.
The sanctioning of Rosneft Trading S.A., a Switzerland-incorporated subsidiary that the State and Treasury departments said serves as an oil brokerage firm, was done because it operates in Venezuela's oil sector, which the U.S. sanctioned in January 2019.
“Rosneft Trading S.A. and its president brokered the sale and transport of Venezuelan crude oil,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement announcing the penalties. “The United States is determined to prevent the looting of Venezuela’s oil assets by the corrupt Maduro regime.”
Rosneft Trading board chair and president Didier Casimiro was also designated. He serves as vice president for commerce within the larger Rosneft firm.
Any of Rosneft Trading's and Casimiro's assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen, and U.S. persons are now generally prohibited from conducting business with them. Anyone who does could be subject to U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. has been leading a global pressure campaign on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro amid an ongoing political and economic crisis in the Latin American nation. Washington has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president, as have more than 50 other nations.
Maduro has vowed to carry out legal action against U.S. President Donald Trump's administration over economic sanctions imposed by Washington against Venezuela.
"In the field of diplomatic relations there can be differences, they have to be addressed, but one cannot use the position of economic dominance to harm a country and impose policies on it," he told journalists last week in Venezuela's presidential palace.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington D.C.