Venezuela, 'Maduro Mafia's' top oil customers

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton warned bankers, brokers and traders not to deal in Venezuelan commodities that are being “stolen” from the country’s people by the “Maduro mafia” on Wednesday, after the Trump administration announced sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company this week.

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As the poverty-stricken country remains torn between two political leaders, during an interview with FOX Business on Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions on state-owned oil company PDVSA are aimed at preventing disputed President Nicolas Maduro’s regime from accessing funds.

“There’s no question that what we’re trying to do is cut off the money to the regime that should not be in power, and make sure that President Guaidó has access to funds and has access to the assets of the country, and to make sure we protect these assets for the people of Venezuela,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during an interview with FOX Business on Tuesday.

Opposition leader and interim President Juan Guaidó told FOX Business’ Trish Regan in an exclusive interview on Tuesday night that the protection of assets, supported by the U.S., is “very important” and one of his goals is to help protect the country’s oil industry in order to make it “prosperous again.”

Venezuela, which was once one of the most vibrant economies in South America, spiraled into poverty despite sitting atop the largest oil reserves in the world.

Here are the top three biggest importers of oil from Venezuela, as of 2017, which accounted for 88 percent of the country’s total exports.

1. U.S.

The U.S. imported 41 percent of Venezuelan oil exports in 2017, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

During the last fiscal year, the U.S. imported 505,300 barrels of oil from Venezuela per day, comprising 6.4 percent of total U.S. imports. Venezuela ranks fourth among the country’s where the U.S. imports the most oil from – behind Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

Under the newly implemented sanctions, U.S. refiner and marketere Citgo, which is owned by PDVSA, will be permitted to continue operating in the U.S. so long as money goes into a blocked account that Maduro cannot access.

The U.S. is one of the few customers that still gives cash payments for Venezuela’s oil exports.

2. China

As of 2017, China received one-quarter of Venezuela’s oil exports. It is estimated that Venezuela sent more than 386,000 barrels per day to Beijing during that time frame.

These crude oil exports are sent as loan repayments, according to the EIA, and therefore do not necessarily generate a profit for the country.

China’s National Petroleum Corp. is among the companies that Venezuela has a joint venture partnership with.

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3. India

India is the recipient of slightly less Venezuelan oil exports than China, at 22 percent as of 2017. That was equal to about 332,000 barrels per day.

As a result of debt owed to Russian oil company Rosneft, Venezuela sends oil to Nayara Energy’s Vadinar refinery in India, according to the EIA.