Venezuela is seeking an International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) red alert for the former President of the state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Rafael Ramirez, in its quest to crack down on corruption.
The Attorney General of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, said Thursday during a press conference that the government is seeking Ramirez’s arrest for the period of time when he was in charge of the world’s largest crude reserves.The request for the arrest warrant against him charges him for the crimes of intentional embezzlement, money laundering, and association.
“No crying, citizen Ramirez ... You have been pointed out by all, including by national public opinion, as one of the main embezzlers and culprits of the ... breakdown of PDVSA,” Saab said.
Interpol has not yet responded to Venezuela’s request, while the former company president — who was also the former permanent representative of Venezuela to the United Nations — has denied any corruption allegations.
Saab also told the press that family members and friends who participated as shareholders of companies in the corruption scheme, receiving payments in their accounts through tax havens, have either been arrested or seized of their assets.
Ramirez is also being accused of being responsible for an economic meltdown marked by widespread shortages of food and medicine, the world’s highest inflation rate, and a surge in emigration.
In addition, he is being accused of destroying PDVSA by filling the company with political loyalists and letting at least US$11 billion go “missing” during his tenure.
Last month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed his commitment to stamping out corruption within the oil company and has praised both PDVSA workers and Saab for their fight against it.