US official: Maduro ‘looting’ Venezuela’s gold reserves

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top U.S. official is accusing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of illegally exporting tons of gold in a bid to rescue his country’s collapsing economy.

U.S. Treasury’s Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea said Wednesday that Maduro is “looting” his country’s gold reserves in a new strategy to replace Venezuela’s failing oil industry.

Billingslea said that in recent months Venezuela has shipped 21 metric tons to Turkey without approval from the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Venezuela is in the grips of an economic crisis following nearly two decades of socialist rule.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, Billingslea declined to say whether the U.S. is preparing to extend economic sanctions to Venezuela’s gold exports.

The Venezuelan Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.

Categories: National News