CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday that Citibank NA C.UL, planned to shut his government’s foreign currency accounts within a month, denouncing the move by one of its main foreign financial intermediaries as part of a “blockade.”
“With no warning, Citibank says that in 30 days it will close the Central Bank and the Bank of Venezuela’s accounts,” Maduro said in a speech, adding that the government used the U.S. bank for transactions in the United States and globally.
“Do you think they’re going to stop us with a financial blockade? No, gentlemen. Noone stops Venezuela.”
Citibank, a unit of Citigroup Inc C.N, could not immediately be reached for comment about the purported measure against Venezuela’s monetary authority and the Bank of Venezuela which is the biggest state retail bank.
With the OPEC nation’s economy immersed in crisis, various foreign companies have been pulling out or reducing operations.
Critics say the socialist economics of Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez have been a disaster for Venezuela, while the government blames its political foes and local businessmen for waging an “economic war” against it.
Due to strict currency controls in place since 2003, the government relies on Citibank for foreign currency transactions.
Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Andrew Hay