Vast amounts of oil revenue are estimated to have been siphoned off from Petroleos de Venezuela and parked abroad, including in Spain. Last year, Spanish prosecutors arrested a former Venezuelan minister and seized more than 100 properties from a suspected money-laundering ring, according to El Pais newspaper.

But other U.S. officials argue that Spain followed their lead in recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the nation’s rightful leader and demonstrated goodwill by granting refuge to opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez at its ambassador’s residence in Caracas after a failed April 30 revolt.

Meanwhile, in Caracas, Venezuelan central bank officials have been telling contractors that going through the Bank of Spain is an option to make and receive payments outside the country, while warning the funds may take additional time to clear due to increased scrutiny. When one British financier who’s been pitching Venezuela’s central bank on long-shot ways to raise funds asked how he would get paid, the officials suggested sending the money through Spain’s central bank, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Spanish central bank has said in the past that the amount of money in Venezuela’s account is small and that there hasn’t been a significant change in activity in recent years. The transactions are limited mainly to transfers by multilateral organizations to get funds to their representatives in Venezuela, the Bank of Spain said.

Tensions With Washington

Tensions between Madrid and Washington rose in February when Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Maduro looked even stronger just weeks after Spain joined the U.S. in recognizing Guaido. Borrell also bristled at President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw American troops from Syria. To the frustration of some U.S. officials, the Spanish government still maintains normal relations with Maduro and his allies.

The Bank of Spain’s continued relationship with Venezuela comes at a critical juncture for Maduro as financial institutions including Turkey’s state-run Ziraat Bank have stopped offering their services to move money. Some Venezuelan accounts in Asia have been frozen or discontinued as well.

Spain has its own political uncertainty. Polls suggest Sanchez will win the nation’s fourth election in as many years on Nov. 10 yet again come nowhere near earning an outright majority. Even if he can find a partner to back him in a confidence vote, he could be forced into another ballot as soon as legislative politics get choppy.

This article provided by Bloomberg News.

First « 1 2 » Next