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US sanctions Venezuelan officials, alleging election fraud

  • The election irregularities "strongly suggest fraud helped the ruling party unexpectedly win a majority of governorships," the department said.
  • 10 current current and former Venezuelan government officials were sanctioned by the Treasury Department on Thursday.
People check the information on a polling station during a nationwide election for new governors in Maracaibo, Venezuela, October 15, 2017.
Jose Issac Bula Urrutia | Reuters
People check the information on a polling station during a nationwide election for new governors in Maracaibo, Venezuela, October 15, 2017.

The Trump administration sanctioned 10 current and former Venezuelan government officials on Thursday, alleging connections to various government corruption charges in the wake of state elections in October that cemented the rule of President Nicolas Maduro.

The sanctions freeze all assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit U.S. citizens from "dealing with them."

"As the Venezuelan government continues to disregard the will of its people, our message remains clear: The United States will not stand aside while the Maduro regime continues to destroy democratic order and prosperity in Venezuela," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release.

The sanctions, designated by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), appear to be levied mainly in response to the Oct. 15 elections, where Maduro's socialist party won governorships in at least 17 of the country's 23 states, the Washington Post reported at the time.

The Department's allegations of corruption and election tampering against the 10 officials include: Strategically relocating polling stations without providing adequate notice to voters; performing various disruptive functions on behalf of Venezuela's "Asamblea Constituyente," or Constituent Assembly, which the Department describes as "illegitimate"; curtailing the freedom of the press and restricting the democratic process using state-controlled media; and other allegations.

The elections "were marked by numerous irregularities that strongly suggest fraud helped the ruling party unexpectedly win a majority of governorship," the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a press release.

The sanctions are being implemented under an Executive Order passed in March 2015 under the Obama administration, which also sanctioned some Venezuelan government officials.