Trump Used Looted Venezuelan Public Money to Build Border Wall with Mexico

Unable to make Mexico pay for his $18 billion pet project, Trump has turned to other sources of financing, Ben Norton reports. 

Juan Guido, at left, with President Donald Trump.

By Ben Norton
The Grayzone

Since the United States initiated a coup attempt against Venezuela’s elected leftist government in January 2019, up to $24 billion worth of Venezuelan public assets have been seized by foreign countries, primarily by Washington and member states of the European Union.

President Donald Trump’s administration has used at least $601 million of that looted Venezuelan money to fund construction of its border wall with Mexico, according to government documents first reviewed by Univision.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump insisted countless times that he would “make Mexico pay” to build a gargantuan wall covering all of the roughly 2,000 miles (3,145 kilometers) of its northern border.

Unable to force the country to fund his $18 billion pet project, which has already cost an estimated $30 million per mile in southern Texas, Trump has turned to other questionable sources of financing.

Univision reviewed U.S. congressional records and court documents and found that the Trump administration tapped into $601 million of the Treasury Department’s “forfeiture fund” to supplement the wall construction.



The United States has seized at least $1 billion of Venezuelan public funds that Washington in turn claimed were supposedly being stolen by government officials, according to Univision. This is in addition to the billions more worth of Venezuelan state assets that have been illegally taken over by the Trump administration, the most important of which is Caracas’ crown jewel, the oil refinery Citgo.

“None of that money… has been returned to the Venezuelan people,” Univision reported. “Instead, most of the money is being collected by the U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments and held in special forfeiture funds used mostly to fund law enforcement investigations.”

Right-Wing Opposition Upset

The Trump corruption scandal has been almost entirely ignored by mainstream corporate media outlets. Univision buried its own scoop deep in a report that advanced the talking points of Venezuela’s U.S.-backed right-wing opposition and referred to the elected government of President Nicolás Maduro as a “widely repudiated regime.”

Univision, the largest corporate media network in the United States that focuses on Latino issues, is owned by billionaire-controlled private equity firms, one of the most prominent of whom is the Israeli-American oligarch Haim Saban.

Based in Miami, the de facto capital of the Latin American right, this massive media conglomerate acts as a mouthpiece for conservative forces and corporate interests across Central and South America.

The Univision article, titled “Legal battle over Venezuela’s looted billions heats up,” refers to unelected U.S.-appointed coup leader Juan Guaidó as the leader of the country’s supposed “interim government.”

Univision also absolved the U.S. and European countries of stealing billions of dollars of Venezuelan public money, justifying the theft with allegations of Venezuelan government corruption.

However, the fact that the report saw the light of day reflects a growing schism between supporters of the Venezuelan opposition and their imperial patrons in Washington. Univision was clearly upset that the Trump administration had not given the self-declared “Guaidó government” the money that it stole from Caracas.

“When it comes to who gets to keep the money from those looted assets, the U.S. appears unwilling to relinquish the cash,” Univision wrote in frustration.

Guaidó Gang’s Blatant Corruption

What Univision did not mention in the report was that the Juan Guaidó coup administration had already been exposed for numerous acts of corruption.

Top Guaidó operatives spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of supposed “humanitarian aid” money on fancy hotels, nightclubs, dinners, and clothes during a U.S.-led coup attempt on the Colombia-Venezuela border in February 2019.

The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil also exposed how Guaidó allies oversaw a scam to liquidate Citgo, Venezuela’s most valuable foreign asset, essentially selling it off to North American corporations.

As for the billions of dollars of Venezuelan public assets stolen by Western governments, there is no sign of that money ever being returned to the Venezuelan people.

In his new book “The Room Where It Happened,” the Trump administration’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton boasted that the British government “was delighted to cooperate on steps they could take” to assist in Washington’s coup efforts, “for example freezing Venezuelan gold deposits in the Bank of England, so the regime could not sell the gold to keep itself going.”

The Bank of England still holds approximately $1 billion of gold that it stole from the Venezuelan government, and has refused to give it back.

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a reporter for The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with Max Blumenthal. His website is, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

This article is from The Grayzone.

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5 comments for “Trump Used Looted Venezuelan Public Money to Build Border Wall with Mexico

  1. michael Chattick
    July 6, 2020 at 13:14

    Within US Treaury is a branch that manages so called FOREIGN ASSETS, who now for all intents and purposes owns CITCO’ refinerie and distribution system within US.
    Not a.newly formed banch as its roots go clear back to theft of Hawaian Islands and Spanish American wars takeover of Phillipine Isles, with its most recent action was laying claim to Syrian Oil production within US administered Syrian Kurd area.
    London has long been the leader if setting standards, purity, and mover/ storer of foreign Sovereign gold, but ubder now centuries of rules all participents are not the owners of other nations gold holdings and cannot use for own needs.
    There are 5 major movers and testers of sovereign gold .ovements and it must be damn near perfect gold only, but in just last few years. many a nation believing in purity have found the gold with as little as 80-85 percent pure.
    After months of delay by US to German requset for a large portion of its gold reserves to be returned recieved only approximately half their request….
    We will never know why US delayed shipment to Germany and refused half of order but the most important issue is what and who stole gold. Get kick out of those who talk “legal”, Worlds financial system has no legal restrictions by the worlds largest nations, where did Iraqs gold go, Syrias, Libya, and Afghanistan and why is it that three South American nations no longer have sovereign gold but their currency is backed only by US Treasury.?

  2. Aaron
    July 3, 2020 at 13:14

    Interesting that Mr. Saban would be so involved with Venezuelan politics, I suppose he’s concerned about bringing democracy to the citizens. Or possibly he got interested in the fact that they have tons of oil. Speaking of pro-Israel dudes, what is Elliot Abrams up to these days? It would be interesting to explore exactly how he got his job regarding Venezuela considering his resumé.

  3. AnneR
    July 3, 2020 at 11:16

    How is this in any way LEGAL? Oh, wait. ‘Tis the USofA – we decide what’s legal or not.

    It is obscene – every aspect of it. Every Aspect.

    And why am I completely unsurprised that Saban has a large chunk hold in Univision….And that the television station, therefore, would tread very softly around any discussion about such as the USofTheft just in case, just in case the legitimate, equally true case could be raised in the minds of viewers about another ethnic-cleansing colonizing state to which Saban is deeply attached.

    • Anonymous
      July 4, 2020 at 01:19

      That’s exactly it, though. We’re ruled by an endless stream of Lannisters, while people run around pretending we’re so civilized and evolved. This is much the same as people pretend that abused circus animals are (what they consider to be) civilized because their survival instincts are regularly hijacked by their masters to get a desired result – and as long as we keep holding up our end of this lie, it will never end.

  4. July 3, 2020 at 10:27

    I do not understand why most Americans so readily go along with the harsh policies used against Venezuela, just as they did for years against Cuba.

    Both parties, Joe Biden having criticized Trump, criticized him the wrong way.

    If the American people would just show a little independent thinking and decency, the American empire could not be sustained.

    Venezuela’s future is for Venezuelans to decide. Look at how worked up Americans become at the least rumor of foreign influence in politics, but that principle cannot be extended to others?

    Imagine supporting terror tactics like cutting the electricity grid, destroying the food in millions of refrigerators and endangering those on life-saving machines?

    Or of course, stealing assets held abroad.

    But there is little sign that most Americans care or even pay attention.

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