"Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated brothers Santiago Jose Moron Hernandez (Santiago) and Ricardo Jose Moron Hernandez (Ricardo) for, respectively, providing support for Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra (Maduro Guerra) and the corrupt activities of members of the illegitimate regime of his father, Nicolas Maduro Moros (Nicolas Maduro)”, the release said.
According to the release, Santiago and Ricardo were in charge of the financial mechanism of an illicit gold scheme, involving the president's son Maduro Guerra.
"While the Venezuelan people suffer, the illegitimate Maduro regime has focused its efforts on retaining its grip on power", the press release quoted Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin as saying. "The United States is committed to targeting individuals who facilitate and enable this corrupt regime as they continue to ignore the welfare of the Venezuelan people."
The Treasury alleged in the release that Santiago and Ricardo are trusted partners of Nicolas Maduro and his son, Maduro Guerra, and distribute assets for Nicolas Maduro and his family throughout the world. It also claimed that Maduro Guerra hired Santiago and Ricardo to do business on his behalf.
“The two brothers used different companies to conduct transactions,” the release said. “In addition, Santiago is Maduro Guerra’s principal assistant and regularly accompanies him while Ricardo handles operational activities. Separately, Maduro Guerra, Santiago, Ricardo, and their closest allies are central figures in Venezuela’s gold industry.”
The sanctions effectively freeze property and interests in property of these individuals in the United States, the release added.
In January 2019, Venezuela plunged into a political crisis when the then-head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, proclaimed himself interim president in a bid to oust re-elected Maduro from power.
The United States and most of Western countries have endorsed Guaido, slapped sanctions on Venezuela and froze its assets abroad. Russia, China, Turkey and other nations have supported Maduro as the only legitimate president.
Maduro has accused the West of using sanctions to topple him and take hold of Venezuela’s assets and resources.