EspañolNicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela has shifted from fighting an “economic war” waged by the United States to arresting some of its most prominent officials, linked to the state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Accusations of embezzlement, corruption and money laundering have long swirled around PDVSA — and, specifically, its former President Nelson Martínez and Minister of Petroleum Eulogio Del Pino — but no action had been taken until this week.
Martínez was arrested on charges of criminal intent, fraud, insider dealing with a contractor, and embezzlement for his involvement in the signing of a debt refinancing contract with Citgo. Del Pino was arrested for his involvement in the Petrozamora scandal involving the loss of 15,700 barrels of oil per day.
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“Del Pino is linked to the intentional tampering of fiscal records of crude oil production from 2014 to 2017,” his newly appointed replacement Tareck William Saab said. “The crime was committed during his time as Executive Directorate of Exploration and Production in the Eastern regions for PDVSA.”
Saab announced a “crusade” to combat corruption in PDVSA — a common practice under former President Hugo Chavez.
The arrests look to be the regime’s way of fighting back against exiled Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, under the notion that it can claim those cases went unaddressed under her watch.
However, Rafael Ramírez, who served as President of PDVSA for 10 years, remains free despite claims by the United Nations that he is also deeply responsible for PDVSA’s corrupt practices.
Eulogio Delpino probablemente nunca imaginó que iría preso en su revolución, al igual que Nelson Martínez quien acumuló enormes riquezas durante su gedtión en Citgo. Tienen propiedades en Houston. La cabeza de la corrupción de Pdvsa se pasea a esta hora por los pasillos de la ONU pic.twitter.com/ZnZ8yCRD34
— maibort petit (@maibortpetit) November 30, 2017
Tweet: Eulogio Del Pino probably never expected to be arrested by his own beloved revolution. The same goes for Nelson Martínez who amassed a fortune as a Citgo executive. They have properties in Houson. The head of corruption in PDVSA is now being led down the halls of the UN.
Mayela Armas, a Venezuelan journalist specializing in economic and financial matters, tweeted an overlooked truth: in 2005, the country’s National Assembly and Comptroller’s Office investigated irregularities in PDVSA, and Rafael Ramírez did not appear in court because then-Speaker of the House Nicolás Maduro instructed him not to.
Un detalle. Año 2005. Comisión Controlaría AN investiga irregularidades en Pdvsa, citan a Ramírez, quien no comparece. No va porque el presidente de la AN en aquel momento, Nicolás Maduro, instruyó a los funcionarios para que no fueran… en fin…
— Mayela Armas (@mayearmas) November 29, 2017
There is also the matter of Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, the daughter of first lady Cilia Flores. Between 2014 and 2016, he served as Financial Director of PDVSA, and must have been informed of its illegal activity.
Ya que andan buscando y metiendo preso a todo el que manejó dinero de PDVSA. ¿Le harán también operación Tun-Tun a Carlos Erik Malpica Flores? (Dir de finanzas de PDVSA entre 2014 y 2016)
— Federico Black B. (@FedericoBlackB) November 30, 2017
All signs indicate that former President of PDVSA, Rafael Ramírez, will be one of the next dominoes to “fall” after this unexpected crack down on corruption in PDVSA.
This Wednesday, November 29, Maduro revoked Ramírez’ diplomatic immunity as Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations. It is still unknown what legal action if any will be taken against Ramírez, as there appears to be a strong internal dispute in the regime.