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Chavez issues fresh warning against private banks

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has issued a fresh warning against private banks threatening to place them all under government control.

“If I am forced to intervene in all private Venezuelan banks, I will do it. Let no one have a doubt about it,” Chavez said during a public speech broadcast on television and radio.

“If the oligarchy and this (rumor) campaign that started on the Internet are trying to provoke a rush toward ATM machines to overthrow Chavez, let them beware: it’s the private banking system that will succumb.”

The Venezuelan leader said he had another string of banks in his sight.

Caracas temporarily shut down two banks Monday and dissolved two others — Banco Canarias and BanPro — for irregularities after placing them under government control for 10 days.

The move was just the latest in a string of nationalization measures by the president since 2007 affecting key strategic industries, including electric utilities, cement, steel, oil services and banking.

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