Some of the Senior officials arrested as part of a new “crusade” against corruption in Venezuela are involved in a prostitution network serving politicians and businessmena source related to the investigations disclosed to AFP under confidentiality.
Since last week, when the National Anti-Corruption Police (PNCC) issued a “deep investigation” of officials involved in “administrative corruption and embezzlement”, senior officials and “frontmen” have been arrested They acted under the guise of businessmen.
Those arrested are the National Superintendent of Cryptoactives, Joselit Ramirez, a figure who enjoyed the trust of the Miraflores Palace and was considered El Aissami’s right-hand man. The incarcerated deputy is Hugbel Roa, also personally and politically close to El Aissami. The soldiers are Colonel Antonio Pérez Suárez, Vice President of Trade and Supplies of Petróleos de Venezuela, and Lieutenant Colonel José Agustín Ramos, Director of Security for the Orinoco Oil Belt.
The mayor of the municipality of Michelena, in the state of Aragua, Pedro Hernández, was arrested on charges of links to organized crime groups in the coastal center of the country. The judges arrested are the president of the criminal justice circuit of Caracas, Cristóbal Cornielles and José Macsimino Márquez, competent for crimes related to terrorism.
These arrests, according to what is currently known, are linked to the dismantling of a criminal network that would discount the commercialization of Venezuelan crude oil and direct it to their pockets, which must be sold through various intermediaries due to international sanctions. Some opposition politicians to the Maduro regime had denounced the looting in Petroleos de Venezuela.
Resignation of the Minister of Petroleum
At least three of the detainees are believed to have ties to the powerful Tareck El Aissami, who on Monday resigned from the position of oil minister he held since 2020interrupted by the new scandal in the state of PDVSA, which has seen some 25 investigations underway since 2017, leaving 100 managers and employees in jail.
Arrested Sunday the deputy and former Minister of University Education, Science and Technology, Hugbel Roaconsidered a close associate of El Aissami, was one of the creators of the Venezuelan cryptocurrency Petro, backed by the country’s crude oil reserves.
Roa, in turn, had businessman Alejandro Arroyo as his “front man”, “owner of a mansion in the Country Club (an exclusive urbanization in Caracas), a huge fleet of cars and football teams,” the source added.
“And the serious thing is that he ran a prostitution network in the service of this group where they recruited young women to serve as escorts,” the informant pointed out.
This businessman also had a “partnership with the former governor of Cumaná, Edwin Rojas”, who was also arrested this Monday, according to local press reports.
The detainees will be assigned to PDVSA’s Vice President of Trade and Quality, Colonel Antonio Pérez Suarez; and Joselit Ramirez, of the Superintendency of Cryptoactives of Venezuela (SUNACRIP), responsible for trading oil in cryptocurrencies to evade US sanctions.
The life of ‘new rich’
The investigations, which President Nicolás Maduro revealed Monday, began last October, uncovered “mafia embedded” in PDVSA, as well as the judiciary and mayors.
The president, who has previously announced other anti-corruption crusades, doubts that several of his close associates, arrested today, are leading lives of “nouveau riche” full of “extravagances.”
They had “a way of life for billionaires, a way of life that has nothing to do with a hard-working and honest public servant.”
Maduro said so “disgusting things about the moral behavior” of the detainees will be known laterwithout naming them.
Public Prosecution does not rule out new arrest warrants being requested for corruption plots in PDVSA https://t.co/iKWkH1q8XP
—Tarek William Saab (@TarekWiliamSaab) March 21, 2023
Prosecutor Tarek William Saab, after appointing five prosecutors to investigate the “unscrupulous officials”, indicated on Monday that new arrests are not being ruled out for the PDVSA corruption plot.
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