July 29 (UPI) — The Trump administration has sanctioned two former Venezuelan officials, accusing them of having abused their positions for personal gain at the expense of the Venezuelan people.
In a statement on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez, former minister of Electric Power and president of state power corporation Corpoelec, and Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez, former deputy minister of Finance, Investment and Strategic Alliances for the Ministry of Electric Power, were barred along with their immediate family members from entering the United States for being involved in “significant corruption.”
“They have been designated for accepting monetary benefits, including bribes and kickbacks, in exchange for awarding lucrative supply equipment contracts for Venezuela’s state-owned electricity company, Corpoelec, and for misappropriating public funds for their own self-enrichment,” the United States’ top diplomat said in the statement.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza balked at the measure Tuesday, accusing Pompeo of being a hypocrite for positioning himself as a champion of anti-corruption when he has faced allegations of blocking corruption inquiries at home.
“Typical double standard of the corporate elite ruling the U.S.,” Arreaza said via Twitter. “Everything about them is fake.”
The pair were previously sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in June of last year over allegations of engaging in corruption and fraud.
The 2019 sanctions, which froze all their U.S. assets, were imposed amid mass blackouts in Venezuela that the Treasury said stemmed from years of corruption, neglect and mismanagement of the county’s electricity infrastructure by the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
The Trump administration has been attempting to oust Maduro from power with sanctions since his 2018 re-election was deemed illegitimate early last year. Since then, the United States has led a coalition of more than 50 countries who support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim to the interim presidency.
“This designation reaffirms the U.S. commitment to combating corruption in Venezuela,” Pompeo said. “The department will continue to use these authorities to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally.”
Last week, the Treasury blacklisted brothers with ties to the Maduro family, and Pompeo offered a $5 million reward for information leading the arrest and conviction of Venezuela’s chief justice of the Supreme Court.