HAVANA TIMES – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Friday that more than 100 top officials of the state oil company PDVSA have been arrested on corruption charges, but he assured that there will be no “witch hunt” in the country’s main industry, reported dpa news.
The officials were put in their positions mainly by the late president Hugo Chávez and Maduro his successor.
“In PDVSA there is a battle against corruption, but the workers can rest assured they have my support to rescue ethics, there has not been and there will not be a witch hunt, those ‘witches’ who got into robbing are well identified and they are headed to prison,” he said.
In a rally with young government supporters, Maduro spoke about the fight against corruption that is taking place in the oil company, which led to the arrest of former oil minister Eulogio Del Pino and the former president of PDVSA Nelson Martinez.
The president acknowledged the support given by Acting Attorney General Tarek William Saab in what he called a “crusade against corruption” in the oil industry.
Del Pino was accused of altering oil production figures and “stealing” crude oil, while Martinez, who was president of Citgo, the PDVSA subsidiary in the United States, had signed contracts to refinance the oil company’s debt without authorization.
The Venezuelan opposition today requested explanations from the government about the corruption plot in PDVSA.
The head of the Comptroller’s Committee of the National Assembly (Congress), Juan Gauidó, said that the opposition majority in the legislature conducted an investigation last year to reveal corruption in the oil company, which was ignored by the government.
“They are accomplices of corruption, they won’t withstand an investigation,” he told a news conference, in which he mentioned that the corruption complaint in PDVSA has to do with an internal struggle in the government looking towards the 2018 presidential elections in which Maduro announced that he will seek re-election.
“In the investigation for corruption, what they want is to wash their hands in a war for political power.” Nobody gives credibility to a country that imprisoned the president of its oil company for fraud and who just weeks ago was negotiating the external debt, “he added.
Maduro announced last Sunday the appointment of a major general of the National Guard (militarized police) Manuel Quevedo as the ew oil minister and head of PDVSA, charged with combatting corruption in the oil industry.
Quevedo, who was Minister of Housing, took his new position this week with the promise of lifting oil production, which has fallen in the last four years from more than three million to almost two million barrels a day.
The oil industry is the mainstay of the Venezuelan economy and generates 96 percent of its external revenues.