US sanctions Maduro's stepsons for alleged food corruption

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The U.S. is sanctioning two businessman and three stepsons of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for allegedly forming part of a network that stole hundreds of millions in dollars from food import contracts at a time of widespread hunger in the crisis-wracked South American nation.

The network targeted Thursday by the Treasury Department was allegedly run by Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who has been in the radar of U.S. authorities for two years after amassing a large number of contracts with Maduro's socialist government.

The U.S. Treasury Department alleges that Saab utilized a network of shell companies spanning the globe to hide huge profits from no-bid food and gold contracts.

Some of the contracts were allegedly obtained by paying bribes to children of first lady Cilia Flores.