The acting president of Venezuelan-owned American refiner Citgo has been arrested in the South American country on suspicion of corruption scheme connected to state oil firm PDVSA, according to Associated Press and Reuters.
Authorities detained Jose Pereira and five other Citgo executives in Caracas on charges of embezzlement to the tune of $4bn arising from a plan to refinance company bonds.
Prosecution arguments have it that the deal gave “unconscionable and unfavourable” terms for PDVSA.
The news comes just days after stories that PDVSA and Venezuela defaulted on billions of dollars of bonds earlier this month.
Properly named Petroleos de Venezuela SA, PDVSA has been the driving force of the Venezuelan economy for decades as it controls the world’s biggest oil reserves, many of them offshore.
Despite those resources, PDVSA has fallen into great difficulties arising from mismanagement, graft and the decline in the price of oil.
Venezuelan authorities have been trying to spin the country’s economic woes and scandals as politically motivated and brought on by outside interference, particularly from the US.
Prosecutors in the US have been running a probe into years of alleged improprieties including bribery at PDVSA.