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Bulgaria freezes suspicious payments from Venezuela

AFP  |  Sofia 

and the US have halted what they believe could be a scheme to illegally channel money out of Venezuela, which is under sanctions from amid the ongoing political crisis in the South American country, officials said.

Bulgarian officials and US told a briefing that "millions of euros" in payments from Venezuela's company had been seized in accounts in

The funds -- ostensibly earmarked for the purchase of and to a Venezuelan sports federation -- had been paid into a number of accounts held by a with dual Bulgarian and foreign nationality, who had now left the country.

Some of the money had already been transferred out of the accounts to other countries, Bulgarian said.

The Bulgarian and US authorities suspect that the reasons given for the money transfers "have nothing to do with reality," he said.

"We will most probably open a probe for money laundering," Tsatsarov continued, adding that the authorities refused to confirm at this stage whether the transfers were related to the current political crisis in

"We have undertaken measures to place the remaining funds, which are quite substantial, under control in order to prevent them being taken out of the country," Tsatsarov said.

Bulgaria's central and its national security agency, DANS, were checking whether similar transfers had been made into other accounts in the country, said chief

US Rubin said it was "critical" to "stop the illegal transfer of funds to support the illegal authorities in "

The US was working with its European partners "to ensure the wealth of the people in is not stolen," he said.

makes up 96 percent of the revenue of crisis-hit Venezuela and is using sanctions to try to starve the regime of Nicolas Maduro, while backing

In a tweet on Sunday, Guaido's warned that the state-owned company had been illegally wiring funds through Bulgarian accounts.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 20:00 IST