March 31, 2018 / 3:28 AM / 4 months ago

Venezuela president lands on Panama's 'high risk' money laundering list

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro along with more than 50 Venezuelan nationals are considered “high risk” for laundering money and financing terrorism, according to an advisory issued by Panama’s economy and finance ministry.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with ministers, next to Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami, in Caracas, Venezuela March 26, 2018. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab and electoral board president Tibisay Lucena were also named in the advisory along with Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello, the elder brother of late president Hugo Chavez, and 16 firms in Venezuela.

The economy and finance ministry’s National Commission Against Money Laundering released the list late on Thursday, following its initial announcement on Tuesday.

Maduro’s socialist government has repeatedly vowed to combat corruption that has plagued Venezuela and its oil industry for decades, contributing to its devastating economic collapse.

But critics say the administration, despite making graft-related arrests, is still crippled by financial malfeasance.

Millions of Venezuelans suffer from food and medicine shortages, and the currency has fallen 99.99 percent against the U.S. dollar on the black market since Maduro came to power in 2013.

Panama’s advisory calls on financial and non-financial entities in the country to redouble efforts to prevent risk in any transaction involving the listed people and companies.

“It’s recommended... that they adopt policies and procedures of ample due diligence,” says the document.

In Caracas, Maduro’s government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States has slammed Caracas with a wave of sanctions and other measures to pressure Maduro for change, and is considering adding broad oil sanctions that would target the linchpin of Venezuela’s economy.

Reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City and Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Editing by Sandra Maler

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