Venezuela arrests Citgo boss in anti-corruption raid



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Published: November 21, 2017, 8:00 a.m. Update: November 21, 2017, 6:20 p.m.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuelan authorities detained the interim president of Citgo, the state-owned oil company, the US subsidiary and five other executives for their alleged involvement in a corruption plan, on Tuesday

José Pereira and five Citgo vice presidents were arrested on suspicion of embezzlement stemming from a $ 4 billion deal to refinance the company's bonds, chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab said

Saab said the agreement provided "inconceivable and unfavorable" conditions for the oil giant PDVSA and offered Citgo as a return guarantee without prior government approval. The mediators of the contract were supposedly eligible for a payment of 1.5 percent of the total.

Saab described Citgo executives as facilitators of US and international pressure on the Venezuelan oil sector, "putting Citgo's badets at risk while obtaining personal benefits." [19659003] President Nicola Maduro described the robberies as flagrant and urged employees of the state oil company to support him in the fight against corruption and attacks by the US government. UU

"While I work hard every day, there is a group of bandits robbing people," Maduro said in a televised speech. "What is it called? Betrayal."

The arrests are part of an investigation by the Venezuelan authorities into the country's oil sector, which has struggled in recent years in the midst of poor management and declining production.

So far, the Saab office has 60 arrests related to alleged acts of corruption involving PDVSA, including many senior executives of the state firm and subsidiaries in Venezuela and the United States. Citgo manages three refineries in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana.

Citgo officials, based in Houston, distanced themselves from the arrests and said in a statement that the firm operates independently and complies with the rules and regulations established by the United States. The company adds that it is monitoring the situation closely.

The arrests come amid an ongoing investigation by US prosecutors covering several years of corruption at state oil company PDVSA. In 2015, the Treasury Department accused a bank in Andorra of laundering about $ 2 billion stolen from the state oil company.

About 10 people pleaded guilty for their role in paying bribes and bribes, and US federal officials arrested in October four high-ranking officials, including at least two aides to Venezuela's ambbadador to the United Nations.

The Trump administration imposed extensive financial sanctions against Venezuela in August, which prohibited financial institutions from providing new money to the government or PDVSA. The sanctions also prohibit Citgo from sending dividends to Venezuela and prohibits trade in two bonds recently issued by the government to circumvent its growing isolation from Western financial markets.

Venezuela has struggled to get out of economic ruin in the midst of triple-digit inflation, shortages of food and medicine and a decline in oil prices. Maduro recently announced his plan to renegotiate the external debt that, he said, had become impossible to pay due to a financial "blockade" led by the United States against the socialist nation, although he has offered few details to investors about how he plans to do so. [19659003] The Venezuelan government and PDVSA officially breached billions of dollars earlier this month. The International Association of Swaps and Derivatives, a group of banks and brokers that determine whether an entity such as Venezuela has not made timely payments on its debts, recently voted to say that Venezuela had failed to comply. Two other rating agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor's, also determined that the Venezuelan government is in default.

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