US warns Turkey against Venezuelan ‘blood gold’

Kurdistan 24 (K24 news)

Laurie Mylroie

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The US Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea, visited Turkey last week. His primary concern was enforcing sanctions on Iran, but while there, he warned Turkish business leaders against trading in Venezuelan “blood gold,” Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Venezuela has emerged as yet another point of dispute between Washington and Ankara, as the US recognizes National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, as the country’s legitimate president, and Turkey, along with Russia, China, and Iran, back Venezuelan strong man, Nicolas Maduro.

Close ties between Ankara and Caracas are relatively new, dating back to 2017. Maduro first visited Turkey in October of that year, while he was on a tour of foreign countries which included Russia and Belarus.

Following that visit, Bloomberg reported, a “mysterious” Turkish company, Sardes, “sprang into existence.” In January 2018, Sardes imported some $41 million of gold from Venezuela, “the first such transactions between the two countries in records that go back 50 years.”

That figure more than doubled in February, and by November 2018, when US President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing sanctions on trade in Venezuelan gold, Sardes had imported some $900 million worth of the precious metal.

Virtually nothing is known about what happened to that gold, although Sardes apparently stopped its trading.

Trump’s directive was prompted, in part, by concern that the “Maduro regime and associated persons” were plundering “Venezuela’s wealth for their own corrupt purposes,” as the executive order explains.

At that point, Turkey was the biggest importer of Venezuelan gold, and another Turkish company appeared, almost immediately, to step in to replace Sardes in a maneuver organized by the Turkish government at the highest levels.

(Excerpt) Read more at kurdistan24.net

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