Caracas: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido will be barred from holding public office for 15 years, the maximum allowed by law, following a probe that showed irregularities in his financial records, the state Financial Controller has announced.
“Disqualify from holding any public office the citizen Juan Gerardo Antonio Guaido Marquez,” Comptroller Elvis Amoroso said on Thursday, following the investigation into his declaration of assets.
Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim President in January and has the support of more than 50 countries, including the US.
The decision will be “for the maximum period established in the decree with the scope, courage and strength of the law against corruption”, Amoroso said.
According to the BBC, the decision to stop Guaido from holding office will come into force if he decides to put himself up for re-election at the end of his current term in the National Assembly.
Guaido rejected Amoroso’s announcement, saying that he was “not auditor general”.
“The legitimate congress is the only one with power to designate an auditor general,” he said.
Last week, Guaido’s Chief of Staff Roberto Marrero, 49, was accused of planning “acts of sabotage” against officials after being arrested.
Marrero’s arrest sparked international condemnation, with the US, the European Union and Latin American nations demanding his immediate release.
Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that “weapons and foreign currency” were found by intelligence services during a raid on his home.
Guaido said the security forces had committed an “illegal and unconstitutional” act, adding that he believed the items allegedly found at Marrero’s home had been planted there.
With the backing of the Donald Trump administration, Guaido has been leading calls for Nicolas Maduro to stand down as President as discontent with his socialist regime grows.
Guaido and Maduro each claim to be the constitutional President of Venezuela. After Guaido declared himself interim leader, his assets were frozen and the Supreme Court, dominated by government loyalists, placed a travel ban on him.
But the 35-year-old opposition leader defied that ban in February when he visited Latin American countries to garner support.
Maduro, who still has the support of China and Russia, accuses the opposition of being part of a US-orchestrated coup.