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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures while he talks to the media during a news conference. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 December 2017

"Thieves who now live as magnates abroad, have an internal mafia in PDVSA sabotaging the process,” he said in his radio program on Friday.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he will stamp out corruption within the state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and has praised PDVSA workers and the Attorney General of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, for their fight against it.

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"Thieves who now live as magnates abroad, have an internal mafia in PDVSA sabotaging the process,” he said Friday on his radio program, “La Hora de la Salsa.” “I give thanks to the workers of PDVSA for their help in the fight against the oil sabotage.”

“My respects and recognition to Tarek Wiliam Saab for his great work,” Maduro added.

Earlier Friday, Saab had denounced former President of PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez, for money laundering crimes. The creation of an Office of Marketing Intelligence and Petroleum Policy in 2006, it has been discovered, was used for corruption.

During a press conference, the Venezuelan prosecutor said that the office, created in the Austrian capital of Vienna, was used to supervise the foreign trade of hydrocarbons, with the purpose of collecting royalties and taxes.

The official explained that in 2009, a contract was signed to do a monthly evaluation of the prices for the different formulas in the products quoted in the international market, which were found to be overestimated of their real value by the company, JBC Energy.

Saab also denounced the office’s favoring of individuals and companies that made oil purchase-sale transactions through PDVSA.

He noted that these actions, carried out under the management of Ramirez, have an estimated damage of US$4.8 billion.

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For these crimes, Nelida Izarra Espinoza, the former director general of the Office for the Determination of Export Crude, and the other three senior managers have been detained.

Five managers have also been arrested on charges of embezzlement linked to the Orinoco Oil Belt. Another 17 officials have been arrested for other corruption charges, including former Minister Eulogio del Pino.

The investigations into the company are ongoing.


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