The list of Nicaraguans sanctioned by the US grows to 22 officials, including four members of the Ortega Murillo family, and seven companies
By Juan Carlos Bow (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The United States Treasury Department sanctioned Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, son of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, states a press release issued Friday, July 17.
In addition, the US sanctions Jose Mojica Mejia, a well-known front man of the presidential family, and the companies Difuso Comunicaciones, administered by the sons of Ortega and Murillo, and Mundo Digital, which it accuses of “distributing propaganda by the regime and laundering money.”
“President Ortega and his corrupt inner circle prioritize their own power and wealth over the needs of the Nicaraguan people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, adding that “the United States will continue to target those who prop up the Ortega regime and siphon money from the Nicaraguan economy.”
The new sanctions were applied in accordance with Executive Order (EO) 13851, on “Blocking the property of certain people who contribute to the situation in Nicaragua.”
The Trump administration sanctions on corrupt top Ortega government officials, collaborators and family members, for serious violations of the population’s human rights, has received unanimous bipartisan support in the US Congress, one of the few issues where Democrats and Republicans see eye-to-eye.
The arguments to sanction Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo
The Treasury Department accuses Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo for corrupt practices as the administrator of the also sanctioned Difuso Comunicaciones S.A., a public relations and advertising company, contracted for most of the government’s radio and television advertising campaigns, several government institutions and the ruling Sandinista Front.
Jose Mujica, the front man of the Ortega Murillo family
The Treasury Department stated that Jose Mojica Mejia, is one of the “most trusted” men by the Ortega Murillo family, who “acts as Ortega’s personal representative, creating ghost companies to launder money and conceal his property and illicit funds”.
At the end of 2019, Mojica created a “money laundering plan” to extract profits from the companies he runs on behalf of the also sanctioned Rafael Ortega Murillo, noted the US Treasury Department.
“Mojica’s scheme involved using cash from corporate checks made payable to Nicaragua’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI). Checks were cashed and money was stored at the MTI complex for the regime’s personal use. Mojica has also worked on behalf of Distribuidor Nicaraguense de Petroleo S.A. (DNP), a chain of gas stations controlled by the Ortega family that is one of the family’s principal assets. DNP was designated by OFAC in December 2019.”
Penalties reach 22 officials and seven companies
Since December 21, 2017, when the United States sanctioned the head of the Nicaraguan Electoral Council, Roberto Rivas, for corruption, another 21 Ortega officials have been sanctioned by the US, including Vice President Murillo, and two of her children: Laureano and Rafael, who are now joined by Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo.
The sanctions consist mainly of the freezing of assets on United States territory, revoking their visas to enter the US, and prohibits that country’s citizens from engaging in transactions with them.
In addition, nine of the officials sanctioned by the United States are also sanctioned by Canada and six by the European Union and the Government of Switzerland.