Venezuelan officials arrested for graft in state oil company


CARACAS: Venezuelan police have arrested a deputy minister and nine officials from state oil company PDVSA for allegedly doctoring crude production figures, the state prosecutor’s office said Monday.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab told reporters that the deputy minister, Luis Ramon Mendoza, was arrested with the others over the weekend in a swoop carried out in several regions by the counter-intelligence directorate.

He said the cost of the corruption amounted to more than $1.15 billion.

The irregularities date from when Mendoza, a deputy planning minister in the government of President Nicolas Maduro, was a deputy operations manager at a PDVSA unit in the east of the country.

Saab said Mendoza and 11 other officials had “dressed up production figures to show false efficiency and false levels of business.” Arrest warrants have been issued for two other officials, he said.

He described the group as “a mafia that in the worst manner of organized crime has entrenched itself in our oil industry to cause serious damage to the nation’s heritage.”

Monday’s is the latest in a string of corruption cases being investigated by the prosecutor’s office involving the state oil company, the main revenue source for the cash-strapped Venezuelan economy which is widely believed to be on the verge of default. AFP



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