Russia’s Gazprombank is reported to have frozen the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm in the wake of US sanctions on the South American country.
While Gazprombank is trying to reduce the risk of falling under US sanctions, the Russian state has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters.
Gazprombank, which is closely aligned with the Kremlin, is among the several foreign firms that have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed,
“PDVSA’s accounts are currently frozen. As you’ll understand, operations cannot be carried out,” the source said. Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment.
According to an earlier report by Reuters, PDVSA has been asking customers of its joint ventures to deposit oil sales proceeds in its Gazprombank accounts, in a move to circumvent US sanctions on PDVSA.
The US sanctions, imposed on 28 January, were aimed at blocking Maduro’s access to the country’s oil revenue and support opposition leader Juan Guaido who proclaimed himself interim president.
Russia, in all official statements, have been standing by Maduro and have US-inspired sanctions.
Russian banks and companies, however, are in caught in a dilemma of endorsing the Kremlin line and thereby exposing themselves to US sanctions which would harm their businesses.
Gazprombank is Russia’s third biggest lender by assets and includes among its shareholders Russian state gas company Gazprom.
The bank has been holding PDVSA accounts for several years and had signed financing deals for its Petrozamora company.