The attorney general of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, reported that 21 people have been arrested for alleged involvement in corruption in the country’s oil sector and the judiciary, including officials of the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the National Superintendence of Crypto-assets (Sunacrip) and other institutions, and private business owners prosecuted for money laundering.
In a press conference held on Saturday, March 25, at the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office in Caracas, Saab provided details surrounding the corruption scheme, which he named “PDVSA-Crypto scheme.” He stated that this is the 31st corruption investigation involving the oil industry that his office has carried out since he took charge in 2017, leading to the trial of 194 citizens out of which 75 have been sentenced.
“A network of officials was detected who, using their position and authority, carried out operations outside the scope of PDVSA,” Attorney General Saab revealed. Sunacrip was assigned crude oil loading operations in vessels by PDVSA “without any type of administrative control or guarantees, breaching the contract regulations required for such a purpose. Sunacrip had no reason to interfere in something that does not involve them.”
“Once the legally assigned crude was put on the market, the corresponding payments to PDVSA were not made,” Saab continued. “The network of corruption used a conglomerate of commercial companies to legitimize the capital illegally obtained from the sale of crypto-assets: sale of goods and real estate, investments in the construction and housing sector, leading to a lifestyle that should not be taken up by any public official, and that should coincide even less in the case of some of these ladies, who do not have an educational or work background, who were linked to these corrupt people and lived a life of luxury that not even the Gulf princes live.”
According to what has been revealed in the investigations, corrupt officials and business owners involved young men and women in their networks, “in the style of the best television series on narcos,” the attorney general said.
In addition, he reported that a number of goods and property have been seized and are in safekeeping, leading to “a significant recovery of the ill-gotten money.” He then played a two-minute video that showed small airplanes, helicopters, cryptocurrency mining farms, buildings under construction, and a large number of the newest models of expensive cars, all seized by the personnel of the National Anti-Corruption Police.
When asked about the monetary value of the damage that this corruption scheme caused the country, the attorney general stated it is not convenient at this moment to provide exact figures and that it is up to the Attorney General’s Office to decide on when to make the information public. He added that a recovery of assets is being carried out, and “it will be up to us to provide the exact value of the damage caused to the nation.”
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Attorney General Saab announced that the following officials have been detained for their involvement in corruption:
- Antonio José Pérez Suárez, vice-president of Commerce and Supply of PDVSA, possible head of the corruption network.
- Joselit de la Trinidad Ramírez Camacho, head of Sunacrip and crypto-financial operator.
- Hugbel Rafael Roa Carucci, deputy of the National Assembly. Saab stated that Roa “used his position to give crude oil loading contracts to operators who then did not pay. He is the most brazen of this criminal gang… He had been committing acts of corruption even when he was the food and nutrition minister.”
- José Agustín Ramos, Yamil Alejandro Martínez, Odoardo José Bordones, Heinrich Chapellín Biundo, and Jesús Enrique Salazar, officials of the Vice-Presidency of Commerce and Supply of PDVSA who were in charge of the operations of contracting, trading, loading, and transportation of crude oil abroad.
- Rahid Alberto Mosqueda and Renis Eduardo Barrientos, from the digital currency mining and associated processes department.
In addition, 11 business owners have been arrested for involvement in the corruption scheme:
- Manuel Meneses, financial operator, advisor to the head of the corruption network.
- Rogers Martínez, general coordinator of the financial operations and liaison between public officials and associated business owners.
- Brothers Rafael Perdomo and Roger Perdomo, “who acted as associates and national financial operators to legitimize the illegally obtained money.”
- Daniel Prieto, businessman and financial operator at the national and international levels. Originally from the city Anaco in the Venezuelan state of Anzoátegui, he fled to the Dominican Republic and was detained there at the request of Venezuelan authorities.
- Kristhonfer Barrios, Johanna Torres, Alejandro Arroyo, Bernardo Arosio, Fernando Bermúdez, and Leonardo Torres, allegedly responsible for money laundering and legitimization of laundered assets. They were assigned million-dollar contracts which they never fulfilled.
Arrest warrants have been issued against 11 more individuals:
- Brothers Juan Manuel Afonso and Manuel Ramón Afonso, businessmen and international financial operators who legitimized illegally obtained capital.
- William Rivas, Ximena Cagide Parada, Eduardo Noriega, José Luis Ferrandiz, Olvany Gaspari, Railin Elizabeth Yépez, Rodolfo Moleiro, Alejandro Londoño, and Yuravic Ravelo, who were used by the heads of the corruption gang to “entrap” contractors.
The detainees have been charged with the crimes of appropriation and diversion of public assets, peddling of influences, legitimization of illegal capital, and criminal conspiracy. In addition, the public officials will be charged with the crime of treason, Saab stated.
Las Tejerías mayor arrested for financing organized crime
Attorney General Saab reported that Pedro Hernández, former mayor of the Santos Michelena municipality (Las Tejerías) in Aragua state, has been charged with the crimes of treason, aggravated extortion, terrorism, obstruction of the freedom of trade and business, aggravated criminal conspiracy, and money laundering.
Hernández “financed and supported with resources of the Venezuelan State the parties, public events, and logistic material of organized criminal gangs, including the gang of El Conejo,” Saab reported, referring to the leader of the gang Tren de Aragua, Carlos Enrique Gómez Rodríguez, who was killed on Friday by Venezuelan security forces.
Investigations have revealed that Pedro Hernández had ties with Héctor Guerrero, alias El Niño Guerrero, leader of Tren de Aragua, who runs international criminal and terrorist cells in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.
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Three members of judiciary charged with corruption
The Attorney General’s office has charged three judges for corruption:
- Cristóbal Cornieles Perret, who served as president of the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas, and José Mascimino Márquez García, Fourth Judge of Control with Competence in Cases Related to Terrorism, have been arrested for corruption. “These judges agreed to grant a precautionary measure instead of imprisonment to Oswaldo Cheremos Carrasquel, a member of the organized crime group El Tren del Llano, after changing the terrorism accusation made by the Attorney General’s Office, so that the criminal could be free while the case continued,” Saab stated. It has been revealed that the two judges took bribes in cash and kind from Cheremos Carrasquel in lieu of liberating him from prison.
- The other case of corruption happened in Falcón state, where “lawyer Yorwis Bracho Gómez, at the time of holding a special third party hearing, agreed to hand over four motor vehicles which were subject to a precautionary measure of seizure requested at the time by the Attorney General’s Office,” Saab reported. The owners of said vehicles are subject to criminal investigation, so it is presumed that Bracho Gómez took advantage of his position as judge to grant judicial benefits.
All these investigations are being carried out by the 50th, 67th and 73rd National Prosecutors’ Offices.
27 cases against the “interim government”
In response to a question from the press, Saab reported that his office has opened 22 criminal proceedings against the self-proclaimed “interim government” headed by former deputy Juan Guaidó, for the crimes of usurpation of functions, money laundering, terrorism, arms trafficking, treason, and criminal conspiracy. These investigations are related to the appointment of the fake boards of directors of the Venezuelan state companies CITGO, Pequiven, and Monómeros, fake ambassadors and chargés d’affaires, and a fake board of directors of the Central Bank of Venezuela, as well as theft of state assets.
In addition, there are five other ongoing proceedings related to irregularities committed by the “interim government” in its administration of the company Monómeros, which takes the total to 27 cases. The deviation of humanitarian aid funds and conspiracy and armed coup attempts such as operations Gedeón and Libertad are also under investigation.
Attorney General Saab stated that 288 arrest warrants have been issued, and 129 people have been arrested and charged in relation to these cases. There are extradition requests against 13 individuals, and Venezuelan authorities have carried out 63 convictions, 137 raids, and 149 seizures. “This group will not be allowed to enjoy impunity,” Saab emphasized.
(Alba Ciudad) by Luigino Bracci Roa
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
He is passionate about computer science since he was about 14 years old, at that age “a man gave me a small computer that he had bought in the eighties, of those that were connected to a television and had to be programmed to work (a Sinclair ZX81 ), and I really liked it.” On his political inclination, his parents were a great influence. “They were people of very humble origins, both emigrants, dissatisfied with injustice and inequality. But they were not militants of the left. I had many other influences, classmates in HS whose parents were on the left, as well as several teachers who were trained in the Pedagogical and gave us classes at a time as conflictive as it was the presidency of CAP and the military insurrection of Chávez ” He enrolled in the UCV and in 2006 he graduated in Computing, a career that he complements with popular communication in the digital field.
Luigino Bracci#molongui-disabled-linkSeptember 3, 2022
Luigino Bracci#molongui-disabled-linkAugust 24, 2022
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