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Sanctioned Businessman Helps Maduro With Iran Oil Scheme

A Colombian national under U.S. sanctions for his ties to Nicolas Maduro is helping the regime in Venezuela with a gold-for-oil products scheme with Iran, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing seven sources with knowledge of the matter.  

According to some of the sources, Alex Nain Saab Moran – sanctioned by the U.S. for orchestrating a corruption network in Venezuela from which Maduro’s regime has profited – has recently traveled to Iran’s capital Tehran with executives of Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA as part of a deal in which Iran is sending gasoline additives and parts for refineries in exchange for gold from Venezuela.

A Miami-based lawyer for Saab, Maria Dominguez, denied any participation of her client in any such events in a message to Bloomberg. 

Last July, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Alex Saab over a corruption scheme that has enabled Maduro and his regime to profit from food imports and distribution in Venezuela, at the expense of starving Venezuelan people in the horrific economic crisis.

“Alex Saab engaged with Maduro insiders to run a wide scale corruption network they callously used to exploit Venezuela’s starving population. Treasury is targeting those behind Maduro’s sophisticated corruption schemes, as well as the global network of shell companies that profit from the former regime’s military-controlled food distribution program,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in July.

Last week, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said that Maduro’s regime in Venezuela is paying Iran in gold for help with Venezuela’s crumbling oil industry. 

“Those planes that are coming in from Iran that are bringing things for the oil industry are returning with the payments for those things: gold,” Abrams said in conversation at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. 

In April alone, Venezuela loaded 9 tons of gold, worth around US$500 million, on airplanes for Iran, in exchange for Iranian help for repairing Venezuela’s crumbling refineries, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg last week. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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