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US slaps sanctions on Cuban company for Venezuelan oil trade role

Washington — The US Treasury Department Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Cuban company for its role in facilitating Venezuelan oil trade.

"Treasury continues to pursue sanctions evaders to deny resources to the illegitimate Venezuelan regime," Treasury Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich said in a statement.

Treasury sanctioned Corporacion Panamericana, a Havana-based company, for acting as an intermediary for Cubametales, a Cuban company already subject to US sanctions, in oil and gasoline trades prohibited by US sanctions.

In July, Treasury sanctioned Cubametales, Cuba's state-run oil import and export company, for continuing to import Venezuelan oil, trade the Trump administration said was in exchange for defense, intelligence, and security assistance to President Nicolas Maduro's government.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told reporters Tuesday that Cubametales was the "primary facilitator" of "illicit" oil sales from Venezuela.

Corporacion Panamericana replaced Cubametales in "various energy deals and international commercial dealings with several countries," the Treasury said Tuesday, adding that employees were shifted between the two companies after sanctions were announced in July.

This summer, the agency said, a North African company declined to do business with Cubametales due to US sanctions so Cubametales had Corporacion Panamericana take over its commercial relations with the company.

"Corporacion Panamericana then executed commercial activities related to a supply of oil that were previously executed by Cubametales," Treasury said in a statement. "After taking over this deal, Corporacion Panamericana kept Cubametales officials informed of the details of the contract."

Additionally, Treasury said, a Cubametales official was moved to a corresponding position at Corporacion Panamamericana after US sanctions were announced in July and negotiated a deal with a European company for the delivery of gasoline to Cuba.

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, newsdesk@spglobal.com