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The Russian accounts of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and all other Venezuelan companies will be moved to a Russian bank that is sanctioned by the United States, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing two sources familiar with the plans.
Russia is the staunchest supporter of Nicolas Maduro’s regime in the political power struggle in the Latin American country sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserves, while the U.S. and many European nations have recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president. Russia has stood by Maduro for years and has poured billions of U.S. dollars in Venezuela in the form of loans and oil investments in joint ventures.
The Russian authorities have decided to move the Russian accounts of Venezuelan firms to the Russian Financial Corporation Bank (RFC Bank) after they held consultations with Venezuela and the businesses, according to RIA Novosti’s sources.
“RFC will become the main bank for servicing all Venezuelan business, most of all, PDVSA,” one of the sources told the Russian news agency.
The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on RFC Bank in April 2018, because the bank is a subsidiary of state-owned Russian weapons trading company Rosoboroneksport. The U.S. sanctions on RFC Bank came along with the designation of seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, including Oleg Deripaska, and 17 senior Russian government officials.
Russia’s Gazprombank has frozen accounts held by PDVSA and has stopped conducting transactions involving these accounts on concern of getting penalized under the latest round of U.S. sanctions against PDVSA, Reuters reported last month, quoting an unnamed source at Gazprombank.
The Venezuelan state oil firm was quick to describe the report as “fake news” on Twitter.
Yet Reuters’ reporters note that Russian companies are wary of falling under secondary sanctions for doing direct business with PDVSA, despite the Kremlin’s official support for the Maduro government.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.