July 17, 2020 / 4:48 PM / 19 days ago

U.S. imposes sanctions on son of Nicaragua's president

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on another son of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, accusing him of corruption and spreading propaganda in the latest effort by Washington to put pressure on the leftist government.

The Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo alongside Jose Jorge Mojica Mejia, a personal representative of the Ortega family, and two companies it said they used “to distribute regime propaganda and launder money.”

The Trump administration has accused the Nicaraguan government of concentrating power in the hands of the president and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is already subject to U.S. sanctions along with other Nicaraguan officials.

The Trump administration has also criticized the government for cracking down on anti-government protests and accused it of human rights abuses, unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, political persecution and widespread corruption.

“President Ortega and his corrupt inner circle prioritize their own power and wealth over the needs of the Nicaraguan people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement. 

“The United States will continue to target those who prop up the Ortega regime and siphon money from the Nicaraguan economy,” he added.

Washington on Friday also blacklisted Difuso Comunicaciones S.A., a public relations and advertising company the Treasury Department said was used by Ortega’s son and the Ortega government to spread propaganda, as well as Mundo Digital S.A., which it said is used by Mojica to launder money for the Ortega government.

Friday’s action freezes any U.S. assets of the people and companies and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

Washington has previously imposed sanctions on some sons of the Nicaraguan president.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Makini Brice and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell

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