Citibank to close Venezuelan government accounts; Maduro slams ‘financial blockade’

CARACAS, Venezuela, July 13 (UPI) — Citibank will close the accounts of the Venezuelan Central Bank and the Bank of Venezuela, a move President Nicolas Maduro called a “financial blockade.”

On Tuesday, Maduro said his government received notification from Citibank that the Venezuelan government accounts will be closed in 30 days. The Venezuelan government relies on Citibank to conduct foreign currency transactions due to strict currency controls first imposed under President Hugo Chávez.

“Today, we received Citibank communication … that although we made payments 48 hours ago that in 30 days they will close the Central Bank of Venezuela account,” Maduro said during a televised conference. “Do you think they will stop us with a financial blockade? With or without Citibank, we will move forward.”

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Citibank on Tuesday released a statement in which it said it was closing the accounts after conducting a “periodic risk management review.” The bank also said services will be suspended for the accounts of some Venezuelans living in the United States.

Citibank said it was not diminishing its commitment to Venezuela, where it has provided financial services for nearly 100 years, adding that it values dialogue with the Venezuelan government. Maduro said his government was given 24 hours to settle all the international accounts Venezuela needs to pay.

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