Venezuela: 50 Oil Executives Arrested

Published: 21 November 2017

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The Photographer CC BY-SA 3.0

By Tessine Murji

Authorities arrested 50 members of Venezuela's national oil company, PDVSA, on corruption charges, the country's attorney general announced Monday.

These charges follow the detention of five PDVSA directors in October for allegedly embezzling $US 200 million of company money. The details of the 50 most recent arrests aren't available to the public yet.

"We inform this meeting of the arrest, at this time, of approximately 50 executives of PDVSA, six of whom are senior managers," said Attorney-General Tarek William Saab to a summit of Ibero-American attorney generals in Buenos Aires on Monday.

Saab announced in October the first set of arrests were made over PDVSA losses that occurred between 2012 to 2017. He also said many individuals who profited from the scheme are hiding in the United States.

Venezuela urged the U.S. to comply with Interpol's extradition order, demanding the deportation of those who fled with PDVSA's money.

According to Curaca Chronicle, the scheme took place in the world's largest oil deposit, the Orinoco Belt. Saab said 41,000 oil contracts were made there, of which at least 12 were fraudulent.

"We must establish an important precedent in the fight against corruption in Venezuela," said Saab.

OCCRP recently released an investigation detailing corruption within Orinoco's mining industry.

Saab was appointed Attorney General of Venezuela after his predecessor Luisa Ortega  was dismissed over fraud allegations. Ortega has since fled to Colombia.