Sens. Cruz, Rubio Introduce Bill to Use Funds Seized From Corrupt Venezuelan Individuals for the Venezuelan People
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this week introduced the Preserving Accountability for National Assets Act of 2021 (PANA Act). The bill would take assets seized from individuals connected to the Chavez and Maduro regimes that are convicted of corruption and place them in a "Venezuela Restoration Fund" to be used by the State Department for building up Venezuelan democracy and civil society.
Upon introduction of the PANA Act, Sen. Cruz said:
"Corrupt individuals connected to the Chavez and Maduro regimes stole hundreds of billions of dollars from the people of Venezuela, leaving the country impoverished. The people of Venezuela deserve to get that money back. This bill will hold bad actors accountable and provide much-needed support to those working to restore freedom in Venezuela."
Sen. Rubio added:
"I'm proud to join this effort which would utilize assets recovered from the despotic Maduro and Chavez regimes. Venezuela has a long way towards recovery and these funds can help the interim administration and the democratically elected National Assembly as they work towards a common goal of rebuilding Venezuela's democracy and a prosperous future."
The U.S. has identified corrupt Venezuelan government officials who were complicit in the theft of hundreds of billions of stolen U.S. dollars. In response, the Department of Justice has slowly recovered assets by prosecuting these individuals. By April 2020, federal authorities in Florida had seized $450 million in assets in Venezuelan corruption cases, including cash, property, and even horses. In 2020, there were an estimated $1.5 billion in assets within U.S. jurisdiction. As of February 2021, there were 38 pending cases involving 164 individuals.
The PANA Act would use the funds seized in those cases to - strengthen democratic governance and institutions, defend internationally recognized human rights for the people of Venezuela, support the efforts of independent media outlets, combat corruption, and improve the transparency and accountability of institutions that have been part of the Chavez or Maduro regimes.