Gold mining facility in Venezuela (© Manaure Quintero/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
A Venezuelan gold processing facility owned by state gold processor Minerven that is the target of U.S. sanctions (© Manaure Quintero/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Venezuela’s state-run gold mining company and its president for propping up the regime of Nicolás Maduro.

The company, CVG Compañía General de Minería de Venezuela CA (Minerven) and its president, Adrián Antonio Perdomo Mata, worked closely with Maduro and his allies to expand illegal mining operations in recent years and rob the Venezuelan people of their natural resources.

“The illegitimate Maduro regime is pillaging the wealth of Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said when announcing the sanctions March 19.

The government’s illegal mining has provided Maduro and his cronies with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold while Venezuelans suffer and starve due to shortage of food and medicine.

The sanctions are part of the United States’ ongoing efforts to stop Maduro and his inner circle from “plunder[ing] Venezuela’s wealth for their own corrupt purposes,” according to President Trump’s executive order authorizing the sanctions.

Stealing natural resources

Along with siphoning off oil wealth from Venezuela’s state oil company, after years of corruption, Maduro and his inner circle have used illegal gold mining to enrich themselves and stay in power, the Treasury Department said. The scheme has been one of their most lucrative in recent years as oil production has fallen.

The administration’s action “will prevent Maduro and other corrupt actors from further enriching themselves at the expense of the long-suffering Venezuelan people. In addition, it will help stop mining-related environmental damage and labor exploitation in Venezuela’s gold industry,” the State Department said.