Puebla, MX (VNA) – Venezuelan authorities said Thursday they had arrested 11 people accused of corruption and sabotage against the country’s oil industry.
Four of those arrested were officials from PDVSA subsidiary PetroPiar, who were accused of involvement in a scheme to purchase supplies at inflated prices.
Some of the prices were inflated by as much as 10,000 percent, according to Attorney General Tarek William Saab.
“The way this took place, it’s the closest thing to a typical [case of] how organized crime acts; how mafias act,” he said.
Saab said at least some of the suspects involved in the case were in the United States and labeled them fugitives.
“There shouldn’t be a US laundromat for this money that has come unduly from the Venezuelan nation,” he said, calling on the US to hand the suspects to Venezuelan authorities.
In the second case of alleged corruption, seven people were arrested for what Saab described as “sabotage”.
According to Saab, the group of technicians and other oil workers were allegedly responsible for a campaign of sabotage at the Petrozamora venture. He said the sabotage likely dates back to 2015 and is estimated to have inflicted “a loss of 15,700 barrels of oil per day”.
“This adds up to more than 15 million barrels accumulated between 2015 and 2017,” he said. Among those arrested was Orlando Enrique Chacín Castillo, the chair of another PDVSA subsidiary, the Venezuelan Petroleum Corporation (CVP).
Saab said the arrest showed the willingness of authorities to pursue charges against senior officials, arguing nine high-level oil sector figures have been detained over allegations of corruption or mismanagement.
“We are talking about delicate cases that have produced a fiscal deficit for the country and therefore deserve justice,” he said.
“Those who have acted in this way did it premeditatedly, with businessmen, in a cartelized manner, to damage the Venezuelan economy,” he said.
Saab also made a string of arrests in early October, also related to corruption in the country’s national oil industry.
This post was written by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim and was originally published by Venezuela Analysis.