Washington (AFP) - The "financial enablers" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are profiting from the sale of resources belonging to that country's people, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday.
The statement appears targeted at Russia and China, which have been major creditors helping to keep the Maduro regime afloat in exchange for oil and a stake in assets like the US-based oil company Citgo, a subsidiary of the state oil firm PDVSA.
Mnuchin and 15 other finance ministers agreed to work to "mobilize additional resources" to help address the humanitarian crisis that has driven 2.6 million Venezuelans to flee the country.
But, in a statement issued from Bali, Indonesia where officials are gathered for the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meetings, Mnuchin decried "the secretive sale of the resources of the Venezuelan people to fill the coffers of Maduro's financial enablers."
The country is in the midst of an economic collapse, with dire shortages of basic goods, like food and medicine, and skyrocketing inflation that the IMF projects will soar over 1 million percent this year, reaching an unreal 10 million percent in 2019.
Maduro has repeatedly denied there is a humanitarian crisis and has refused offers of aid, while devaluing the nation's currency and creating a crypto currency to try to improve the precarious finances, while seeking funding from Russia and China.
"We call on all countries which have been lending to the Maduro regime to support full transparency and fully disclose the terms and collateral demanded of the Venezuelan people," Mnuchin said following a meeting with officials from the Americas, Europe and Japan.
He pointed to efforts by the finance ministers to "dismantle the corrupt networks of Maduro regime insiders who enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Venezuelans," including by the "stripping of gold-bearing ore," and dumping toxic mercury.
Mnuchin blamed Maduro's "destructive policies" for the economic collapse and previously said his regime "lacks legitimacy to borrow in the name of Venezuela."
The United States has imposed tough financial sanctions on Venezuelan officials and entities, including Maduro and his wife, which prevent them from accessing international credit through US markets, speeding the economic ruin in the once-prosperous and oil-rich country.
The countries represented at the meeting were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Guyana, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Britain.
The Treasury statement said it was the fourth meeting of finance ministers on Venezuela but the participants were slightly different than previous gatherings.