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Erik Prince’s ‘Secret’ Meeting With Venezuelan Government “Flagged” By US Treasury

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Earlier this month we detailed the bizarre story of controversial Blackwater founder Erik Prince's trip to meet with top Maduro government officials in Venezuela in late November. Prince had held "secret talks" with no less than Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, which reportedly included the Frontier Services Group executive pressing Caracas for the release of six imprisoned Citgo executives, something that apparently happened, according to a Bloomberg report. Other details of what was discussed or possibly agreed to remain a mystery.

At the time speculation abounded as to whether or not his trip had the approval or knowledge of the Trump administration, given that as we pointed out at the time VP Delcy Rodríguez is a sanctioned individual, meaning discussion of any business arrangement with her or other officials without authorization is against US law. Now it appears Prince could be in hot water over the meetings:

Erik Prince, a major Republican donor and founder of controversial security firm Blackwater, has been referred to the U.S. Treasury Department for possible sanctions violations tied to his recent trip to Venezuela for a meeting with a top aide of President Nicolas Maduro, two senior U.S. officials said.

There’s no indication that Prince, whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, will be sanctioned for the meeting last month in Caracas with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.

Frontier Services Group executive and Blackwater Founder Erick Prince attending an event in New York, via Reuters.


 

Weeks ago the State Department denied that Prince was acting in an unofficial "back channel" capacity. 

When the reports first surfaced, the State Department even claimed it had no knowledge of the visit, with special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams saying in a statement, “Neither the meeting nor any offers made were on behalf of the United States Government and on their face such offers would appear to violate U.S. sanctions.”

The entire strange episode was widely interpreted as meaning the White House had grown tired of regime change efforts inside Venezuela and that support for US-declared 'interim president' Juan Guaidó was wavering.

Of course, it could also signal that an internal US government conflict over Venezuela policy is breaking out into the open, as the AP report hints:

But the fact the visit was flagged underscores the concern of officials in the Trump administration over what appeared to be an unauthorized diplomatic outreach to Maduro. This, as support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó inside Venezuela — if not Washington — appears to be waning.

Prince and outspoken Maduro aide Vice President Delcy Rodriguez


 

A business associate of Prince's who is said to have traveled to Caracas for the meetings claims the National Security Council and Treasury Department were properly notified and that no objections were raised.

The associate also said that no sanctions-violating activity took place, as no business dealings were involved, and nothing of value was received from Venezuelan government officials. Instead, "The person said Prince, a former Navy SEAL, continues to support the Trump administration’s goal of removing Maduro but believes State Department efforts to reach that goal have failed and new alternatives — which the person did not specify — need to be tried," according to the AP.

Though "flagged" for the trip, it's highly unlikely that any legal repercussions will follow whatsoever, given not only Prince's deep insider connections with the Trump administration, but also that the whole 'mission' was probably authorized by somebody at the top, even if initially "off the books". 

 

 


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