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Venezuela cuts trade relations with Panama companies, officials



CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela said Thursday it will halt trade relations with Panamanian officials and companies including the airline Copa over alleged money laundering, days after Panama President Nicolas Maduro accused similar activities.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varelas signs a guest book during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential House in San José, Costa Rica on March 21
, 2018. REUTERS / Juan Carlos Ulate

The motion for a resolution names Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and nearly two dozen Cabinet members and high-ranking officials, adding that Panama's financial system had been used by Venezuelan nationals involved in corruption.

The individuals mentioned in the resolution "represent an imminent threat to the (Venezuelan) financial system, the stability of trade in the country and the sovereignty and economic independence of the Venezuelan people," said the resolution read on state television ,

The statement did not specify whether the move would stop flights from Copa, one of the main providers of overseas flights following the drastic reduction in air traffic from Venezuela.

Copa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An official of the Panamanian presidency said there were no representatives who could comment on this issue.

Panama's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance issued an advisory notice last month that Maduro and about 50 Venezuelan nationals are considered "high-risk" for money laundering and terrorist financing.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab and the President of the Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, as well as the Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello, the elder brother of the late President Hugo Chavez, and 16 companies in Venezuela were included in the deliberations.

The troubled OPEC nation has been sanctioned by Canada, the US and a number of other countries, ranging from human rights violations to corruption and drug trafficking.

Maduro says the country is the victim of an "economic war" waged by its opponents with the help of Washington. The sanctions are part of the efforts of foreign countries to undermine their government.

coverage by Caracas Newsroom; Editorial by Matthew Lewis


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