Mnuchin Says Europe to Share More Data on Venezuela Corruption

(Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that countries from Europe, Asia and Latin America agreed to share information on the assets of “corrupt” Venezuelan officials in an effort to tighten economic pressure on President Nicolas Maduro and stem the nation’s humanitarian crisis.

Mnuchin made the statement following a meeting with representatives from at least 15 other countries, including Germany, France, the U.K., Japan and Brazil. The gathering took place on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington.

“Participants in the meeting agreed that the Maduro regime’s destruction of the economy has created a full-blown humanitarian crisis that is driving a major exodus of Venezuelan citizens,” Mnuchin said.

Representatives also reviewed how the Maduro’s regime’s control over food distribution is a mechanism for social control, according to the statement. They also received a briefing based on shared financial intelligence on the identities of individuals who are stealing from the food program, Mnuchin said.

“We agreed to strengthen international cooperation and continue to share information through appropriate channels on the assets of such individuals and networks,” Mnuchin said.

Switzerland and Lichtenstein, known for their strict bank secrecy laws, weren’t represented at the meeting, according to Mnuchin’s statement.

More than 600,000 Venezuelans have fled to Chile, Colombia, and Argentina to escape crushing hyperinflation, a shrinking economy and a government that is increasingly exerting control domestically. Neighboring Colombia has been the hardest hit, taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Other than Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, Maduro finds himself with few remaining allies in the region. Argentine President Mauricio Macri has called his regime a dictatorship, and Brazil, Mexico and Chile have aligned themselves with the U.S. to push for change.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.