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US Sanctions Venezuelan businessmen for alleged food aid scam

US Sanctions Venezuelan businessmen for alleged food aid scam

The US Treasury Department has sanctioned three Venezuelan businessmen and 16 companies, whom it says were involved in a scheme to help President Nicolas Maduro profit from foreign food aid.

According to the Treasury, Amir Luis Saab, Luis Alberto Saab and David Nicolas Rubio were awarded overvalued government contracts to acquire food abroad for Venezuela’s CLAP food assistance program. The Saab’s brother Alex was already sanctioned in July for participating in the same scheme.

The US accuses the men of helping Maduro use food distribution as a means of political control, an accusation Maduro has waved away before.

The Treasury Department has hit Venezuela with multiple rounds of sanctions since President Trump recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president in January. Some of these sanctions have targeted Maduro and his inner circle, while others target the country’s already-crippled economy, and have been criticized by UN officials for contributing to the Venezuelan people’s suffering.