February 18, 2019

ENDGAME: Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela’s PDVSA.

Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday.

While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters.

“PDVSA’s accounts are currently frozen. As you’ll understand, operations cannot be carried out,” the source said. Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment.

PDVSA brandished the story as “fake news” on its Twitter account in capital red letters, but did not reply to a request for comment.

RELATED: Guaido says thousands of Venezuela volunteers begin preparing US aid entry.

The big question now is whether Maduro is smart enough to settle for a comfortable exile, or if he or his supporters will try to fight it out.

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