Blocked accounts, tarnished reputations and names included in the United States government’s sanctions list. Due to a restrictive punishment, a 45-year-old Italian businessman found himself at the center of an international dispute involving Venezuela, but had no connection with the regime of Nicolas Maduro.
The case began on January 19, when US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on three people and 14 companies suspected of helping Venezuela avoid past penalties against its oil business.
One such person is Alessandro Bazzoni, a resident of Lugano, Switzerland, and the alleged owner of two companies (Elemento and Swissosil) used by Caracas to circumvent US sanctions. These two companies hired themselves to supply Venezuelan oil vessels and later sold it to Asia.
However, by approving all companies associated with Bezoni, the US ended up on the list, including a small restaurant owned by an entrepreneur of the same name, but lives on the outskirts of Verona, northern Italy.
The innocent Alessandro Bazzoni only came to know that he was cleared on February 1, when he found out that his bank accounts had been blocked. He sought help from the Italian police and, upon receiving help, used a digital platform from the US government to send documents to prove that he was not a resident of Lugano.
However, the US only corrected the error on 31 March, when the Treasury Department lifted sanctions against Verona’s Bezoni. The news surprised the businessman so much that he also thought it was an April Fool. “But it was all true. Even without sending me a letter of apology, the American government restored my life,” said Bazzoni, who now has the right to laugh in a state of confusion.
“I rewrote the Americans for a green card. I think I deserve it,” he said. Another Italian Alessandro Bazzoni, owner of a printing company in Porto Torres, Sardinia, was also mistakenly approved, but did not want to talk about the case.