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UAE Investigating Companies Helping Maduro Regime Undermine U.S. Oil Sanctions

Entities based within the United Arab Emirates are helping the Nicolas Maduro regime undermine U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s crude oil and fuel trade, according to an exclusive report by Reuters.

“U.S. friends and adversaries alike should know that their companies, front companies, and tankers remain vulnerable to sanctions if they are complicit in activities that facilitate PdVSA’s (Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.) exports abroad and the Maduro regime’s efforts to evade sanctions,” said a State Department spokesperson to Reuters.

Weeks after the sanctions were implemented, three UAE-based companies, including Muhit Maritime FZE, Issa Shipping FZE, and Asia Charm Ltd began undermining U.S. sanctions and transporting Venezuelan oil and fuel, according to Reuters.

Millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil, produced by the PdVSA, have been transported by these companies since June as shown by public documents and a shipping database.

This accounts for $208.5 million in crude oil and 3.9 percent of Venezuela’s total oil exports in 2020.

Between July and November of 2020, nearly half of the tankers that transported Venezuelan oil or fuel were under new management, many of which went to unestablished companies such as the three based in the UAE.

Reuters reported in November that lesser-known buyers of Venezuelan oil are also emerging from a Moscow-based trading firm.

“We are closely tracking these kinds of creative efforts by companies to evade sanctions. Those behind shell companies would not be wise to consider themselves shielded from sanctions,” said a U.S. State Department spokesperson.

The UAE is conducting an investigation into the three companies and “takes its role in protecting the integrity of the global financial system extremely seriously. This means actively administering and enforcing economic and trade sanctions,” said the UAE government.

In 2019, the U.S. implemented sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PdVSA, to apply economic pressure on the Maduro regime and “support Venezuela’s Interim President Juan Guiadó, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy,” according to Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin

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