April 11, 2018 / 2:04 AM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Panama to temporarily ban Venezuelan airlines in retaliation

(Adds Venezuela govt comment and background)

PANAMA CITY/CARACAS, April 10 (Reuters) - Panama will ban several Venezuelan airlines from working in the country for at least 90 days, the government said on Tuesday, the latest twist in a dispute that began when Venezuelan officials were put on a “high risk” money laundering list.

The suspension of Venezuela’s major carriers in a regional hub further isolates the crisis-hit country, after most international airlines pulled out, citing economic and security concerns.

The targets are companies that have struggled to fill the travel vacuum, including state-owned Conviasa and Aeropostal, as well as private companies Avior, Laser, Santa Barbara and Turpial.

In March, Panama put more than 50 Venezuelans, including President Nicolas Maduro, on a “high risk” list for laundering money and financing terrorism.

In response, Venezuela last week halted commercial relations with Panamanian officials and companies, including airline Copa , for alleged involvement in money laundering, prompting both countries to recall their ambassadors.

Panama’s government said in a statement on Tuesday that the airlines would be suspended for 90 days from April 25.

The Venezuelan government did not respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Elida Moreno Additional reporting by Girish Gupta in Caracas Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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