Venezuela’s attorney general Tarek Saab has announced the detention of 10 officials and 11 businessmen, with arrest warrants issued for 11 more people, in an ongoing anti-corruption investigation focused on state oil company PDVSA, a government entity supervising cryptocurrency operations, and the judiciary.
Saab described the probe as “one of the most lurid plots in recent years”, with accusations including money laundering, criminal association and treason. The attorney general also said an entity that oversaw Venezuela’s cryptocurrency for official transactions had been assigned oil cargoes to sell with no administrative control, with many buyers failing to pay. Last week, Venezuela’s oil minister Tareck El Aissami resigned from his position after two decades of government service.
Since 2020, PDVSA has reportedly accumulated $21.2bn in commercial accounts receivable, with $3.6bn potentially unrecoverable, after exporting its oil via dozens of little-known intermediaries in response to US sanctions. President Nicolas Maduro, who said he had directly overseen the probe, has appointed PDVSA’s head Pedro Tellechea as oil minister. In the last five years, Saab’s office has investigated 31 cases related to corruption in Venezuela’s oil industry, which provides the majority of the country’s hard-currency revenue, leading to nearly 200 prosecutions.