Caracas, April 20, 2023 (OrinocoTribune.com)—Three people allegedly involved in the mass corruption schemes surrounding a number of state industries and branches, including Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the Superintendence of Cryptoassets (Sunacrip), Cartones de Venezuela, among others, were brought before Venezuelan courts this Tuesday, April 18. Ysmel Romer Serrano and Salem Hassoun Atrach were both allegedly involved in the PDVSA-Crypto corruption plot, while Leoner Jesús Azuaje Urrea, the president of Cartones de Venezuela, was linked to the Cartones de Venezuela scheme.
In the morning of Thursday, April 20, Attorney General Tarek William Saab reported that national prosecutors were being appointed to investigate the suicide of Azuaje Urrea while in the custody of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) in the SEBIN detention facility of El Helicoide, in Caracas.
“I have appointed national prosecutors 50 and 67 to investigate the unfortunate suicide of the citizen Leoner Azuaje Urrea in his place of confinement,” Saab announced via social media. “I commission the Public Ministry Forensic Unit, together with CICPC [Forensic Criminal Investigation Police], to advance the inspections, interviews, and autopsy of law.” Analysts have notably questioned Saab’s statement labeling Azuaje Urrea’s death as a suicide without conclusive evidence, given that there is no confirmation of the cause of death.
He #comisionado a los fiscales 50 y 67 Nac para #investigar el lamentable suicidio del ciudadano Leoner Azuaje Urrea en su lugar de reclusión: #instruyendo a la Unidad Criminalistica del #MP junto al #CICPC: para adelantar la inspección técnica, las entrevistas y autopsia de ley.
— Tarek William Saab (@TarekWiliamSaab) April 20, 2023
Before taking on his position in Cartones de Venezuela, Azuaje Urrea was a mechanical engineer graduated from the Central University of Venezuela, with a master’s degree in management engineering from the Metropolitan University, as well as a member of the executive secretariat of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) presidency. He also worked in the mayor’s office of Guaicaipuro municipality, Miranda state, during the administration of Francisco Garcés.
According to Diario VEA, Ysmel Romer Serrano has held several important positions within the Venezuelan government. He was appointed vice president of PDVSA on November 2017, president of PDV Caribe in February 2018, and secretary general of PetroCaribe the same month.
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Before holding these positions, he was PDVSA’s vice-president of commerce and supply, and of crude oil international marketing since January 2017. From May 2016, he served as president of the Fund for the Social Protection of Bank Deposits (FOGADE). Prior to that, he was chief of staff in Aragua state government while former oil minister, Tareck El Aissami, was governor. He was also in charge of the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) Internacional, CVG Internacional Europa SL and CVG Internacional América INC.
Between 2010 and 2011, he had directed the ChávezCandanga online service, which reviewed the requests that people made on Twitter to the account of then-President Hugo Chávez, and directed them to the respective government agencies. Years later, he wrote a book on the subject, called “@ChávezCandanga, A Hurricane In Social Media Networks.”
Anti-Corruption Campaign in Venezuela Continues: 7 New Arrests Including Opposition Officials
Between Friday, March 17, and Tuesday, April 18, a total of 61 people involved in the various corruption schemes investigated by the national government have been arrested, which include cases surrounding PDVSA-Crypto, CVG, Cartones de Venezuela, and the Judiciary, as well as the arrest of the former mayor of the Santos Michelena municipality in Las Tejerías, Aragua state.
The updated total was presented on Tuesday by Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who reported via social media that a total of 172 raids have been carried out throughout the country, and that there are still 20 arrest warrants yet to be conducted.
Orinoco Tribune Special by staff
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