U.S. blacklists Nicaraguan officials, financial institution

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two Nicaraguan officials and a financial institution in the latest effort by Washington to put pressure on the leftist government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Nicaraguan Attorney General Ana Julia Guido De Romero, Secretary of the Presidency Paul Herbert Oquist Kelley and Nicaraguan financial institution Cooperativa De Ahorro Y Credito Caja Rural Nacional RL.

The move was taken in an effort to target key financial operations and officials that undermine Nicaragua’s democracy, the Treasury said.

“The Ortega regime continues to abuse government resources for its members’ personal gain and ignore the Nicaraguan people’s calls for reform,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

“This Administration remains committed to targeting the Ortega regime by seeking out and exposing those who facilitate its blatant corruption,” he added.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has accused the Nicaraguan government of concentrating power in the hands of the president and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is already subject to U.S. sanctions along with other Nicaraguan officials.

The Trump administration has also criticized the government for cracking down on anti-government protests and accused it of human rights abuses, unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, political persecution and widespread corruption.

Friday’s action freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis