US imposes sanctions on Venezuela election firm
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on a biometrics company that assisted voting in Venezuela's parliamentary elections, which President Donald Trump's administration says were rigged.
Ex-Cle C.A., the Venezuelan subsidiary of a company by a similar name in Argentina, has "millions of dollars of contracts" with President Nicolas Maduro's government, which Washington and most Western and Latin American nations consider illegitimate, US officials said.
In a who's who of US adversaries, the Treasury Department said Ex-Cle C.A. bought thousands of voting machines from China, flew them into Venezuela through Iran and paid via the Russian financial system.
Maduro's reliance on Ex-Cle C.A. and Chinese company CEIEC "to rig the electoral processes should leave no doubt that the December 6 legislative elections were fraudulent and do not reflect the will of the Venezuelan people," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
US officials did not assert cheating in the tabulation of the votes, but a number of international observers said the polls were unfair, with Maduro in control of a new electoral council.
The opposition boycotted the vote and lost control of the National Assembly, the only branch of government not in Maduro's control.
Ex-Cle has also operated in Panama, winning a contract to implement a biometric security system, according to the company's website.
The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on two company executives, one Venezuelan and the other a dual Argentine and Italian national, freezing any assets they hold in the United States.
Trump has alleged with no evidence that US elections in which he lost were rigged, with his legal team sharing a debunked conspiracy theory of Venezuelan involvement.