WASHINGTON – The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury Department (OFAC) whitelisted on Wednesday four companies that evaded the oil sanctions imposed by Washington owned by Italian businessman Alessandro Bazzoni.
According to the US government, this scheme has been led by Alex Saab, a Colombia-born businessman close to Venezuela’s leftist leader Nicolás Maduro who was arrested in Cape Verde facing money laundering charges and possible extradition to the US.
The companies cleared by OFAC from the list of sanctions are AMG S.A.S. Di Alessandro Bazzoni & C, AMG S.A.S. Di Alessandro Bazzoni E C, AMG S.A.S. Di Alessandro Bazzoni and C and Serigraphiclab Di Bazzoni Alessandro, all of them based in Italy and under the control of Bazzoni.
In January of this year, Bazzoni was included on the OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN) along with other Venezuelan citizens and some of their companies targeting “additional orchestrators and facilitators with ties to the Mexico network who have conspired with Maduro’s oil minister.”
On that occasion, the OFAC had also imposed sanctions on Francisco Javier D’Agostino Casado (D’Agostino), Philipp Paul Vartan Apikian (Apikian), Elemento Ltd (Elemento) and Swissoil Trading S.A. (Swissoil).
The OFAC, however, did not mention on Wednesday the particular reasons why it excluded Bazzoni from the list, although he remains among the designated and blocked people by the Treasury Department.
A recent research by Armando.info, a Venezuelan investigative journalism website, and Spanish daily El País exposed a network of shell companies allegedly headed by Saab trading Venezuelan oil to bypass the US oil sanctions, showing that 24 crude oil cargoes with some 639,000 barrels and refined products had left Venezuelan ports.