The U.S. has ratcheted up the pressure on Nicaragua’s leftist government for its crackdown on political opponents, with Treasury Department officials warning American banks to be wary of corrupt officials moving cash from the embattled Central American country into the U.S. financial system.
Specifically, Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has advised financial institutions to watch for senior members of President Daniel Ortega’s government or people acting on their behalf illegally transferring assets to the U.S..
“Given the oppressive and corrupt conduct of the Ortega regime and resulting unrest in Nicaragua, people and companies associated with or linked to the Ortega regime may try to move corruption-related assets out of Nicaragua,” FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco said in the press release Thursday.
“U.S. financial institutions are an important line of defense against corrupt and bloodstained money flowing through our system, and we are advising our partners in the financial sector to be on high alert,” Mr. Blanco said.
Mr. Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader, has lost control over most of the country since April when peaceful demonstrations morphed into a revolt against his government and its allies, with more than 300 reported dead in clashes since then.
The Trump administration has already levied sanctions against three allies of Mr. Ortega, targeting them in July for alleged human-rights abuses and corruption. A fourth official was blacklisted by Treasury for allegedly amassing huge wealth while earning a meager government salary.