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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Nicaragua’s state-owned gold mining company and the chairman of its board, in part over the Central American nation’s ties to the Russia.

The sanctions were imposed on the Nicaraguan Mining Co., known by the Spanish acronym ENIMINAS, in part because the country’s leaders are “deepening their relationship with Russia as it wages war on Ukraine, while using gold revenues to continue to oppress the people of Nicaragua,” the Treasury Department said.

The actions are authorized under an existing executive order that targets the Nicaraguan government’s violent response to civil protests that began in April 2018, as well as the Daniel Ortega regime’s use of violence against civilians and destabilization of the Nicaraguan economy.

The executive order was imposed during Donald Trump’s presidency.

“High-ranking members of the Ortega-Murillo regime have benefited greatly from increased Nicaraguan gold exports in recent years, largely due to the outsized role that ENIMINAS has played in channeling profits to private sector partners and bribes to regime insiders,” the Treasury said. said in a statement, referring to Ortega’s wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Friday’s sanctions stemmed from threats the company, known in Spanish as Empresa Nicaraguense de Minas, and its executives pose “to the security of the hemisphere. “.

The sanctions mean that all property and interests in property owned by the company and the chairman of its board of directors and over which the United States has jurisdiction or in the possession of Americans are blocked.

The US government also issued a blanket license that would allow Americans doing business with the company to end their dealings with it by July 18. In 2021, Nicaragua’s gold exports to the United States increased by 30%, totaling more than $744 million, according to US figures.

Gold trade sanctions were also imposed on Russia earlier this year, as the ore can be exchanged for a more liquid foreign currency that is not subject to current sanctions.

In March, the United States and its allies decided to block financial transactions with the Central Bank of Russia involving gold, in an attempt to further restrict the country’s ability to use its international reserves due to the invasion. of Ukraine by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has been building his stock of gold since 2014.

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