Mérida, December 19, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The US Treasury Department has sanctioned a technology service provider for its involvement in Venezuelan elections.
“The United States remains committed to targeting the Maduro regime and those who support its aim to deny the Venezuelan people their right to free and fair elections,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement, echoing the Trump administration’s claim that the vote was “fraudulent.”
Apart from the company, Argentine-Italian dual national Guillermo San Agustin and Venezuelan citizen Marcos Machado were likewise targeted as co-directors and shareholders. Ex-Cle, San Agustin and Machado will now see any US-based assets where they hold a stake larger than 50 percent blocked. In addition, US entities and persons are forbidden from dealing with them.
Venezuelans elected a new National Assembly on December 6. The elections were marked by low turnout, around 30 percent, and delivered an overwhelming victory for the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and allies.
The US, allied governments and hardline opposition factions which boycotted the vote had made “fraud” accusations before the process was held, but no evidence was presented. An international observation mission issued a report endorsing the results and the robustness of the Venezuelan electoral system.
Ex-Cle Soluciones Biometricas is the Venezuelan subsidiary of Argentina-based Ex-Cle and began collaborating with Venezuelan electoral authorities in 2004.
The company’s original role was supplying fingerprint voter ID technology, the first step Venezuelan voters go through.
However, Ex-Cle recently stepped up its role by designing the electronic voting software and procuring machines. Similarly to the previous model, voters make their choice on a touchscreen and the machine prints out a paper confirmation. Audits, held before, during and after election day, include matching electronic and paper tallies.
Voting software was previously designed by UK-based Smartmatic, but the company severed its involvement in Venezuela following the July 2017 National Constituent Assembly elections.
Smartmatic alleged that the final tally had been inflated by one million votes but did not provide evidence to back the claim. The Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) dismissed the accusations, stating that the software provider did not have access to voting data.
The US has levied successive rounds of sanctions against Venezuela in attempts to oust the Maduro government. OFAC has targeted a number of high-ranking officials and several sectors of the Venezuelan economy, especially oil.