U.S. sanctions Venezuelan bank following arrest of Guaidó aide

People in a crowd clapping (© Fernando Llano/AP Images)
Lawyer Roberto Marrero, center, a top aide to interim President Juan Guaidó, was detained by Venezuelan security forces in a raid on his home. (© Fernando Llano/AP Images)

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned Venezuela’s so-called national development bank in response to the illegal arrest of interim President Guaidó’s top aide, Roberto Marrero.

The bank, Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES), and four subsidiary institutions that the U.S. Treasury sanctioned were “used by Maduro and his regime as slush funds to evade United States sanctions and to move money out of Venezuela,” the White House said in a March 22 statement.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Nicolás Maduro and his enablers have distorted the original purpose of the bank, which was founded to help the economic and social well-being of the Venezuelan people, as part of a desperate attempt to hold onto power.

Marrero was arrested by former President Maduro’s security services on March 21.

“The regime’s continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international coalition that is united behind President Guaidó,” Mnuchin said. “Roberto Marrero and other political prisoners must be released immediately.”