Two former highly-placed officials – at Venezuela’s troubled state oil company PDVSA and at the oil ministry – were arrested by authorities on graft-related charges on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Ex-President of PDVSA Eulogio Del Pino and one-time Oil Minister Nelson Martinez were detained on accusations of graft and seeking to sabotage the nation’s ailing energy industry.
Del Pino is accused of being part of a $500m corruption and sabotage scheme at Petrozamora, a joint venture with Russia’s Gazprombank. Martinez is said to have allowed a poor refinancing deal for Venezuelan-owned American refiner Citgo.
PDVSA (properly named Petroleos de Venezuela SA) has been in turmoil, defaulting on bond debts while its oil production has been hamstrung by corruption, mismanagement and equipment failures.
But the firm is still sitting on the world’s largest crude oil reserves and the oil industry still brings in more than 90% of the nation’s export income.
The arrests are the latest in a wave across the energy sector that has seen at least 65 executives detained.
Earlier this week, national President Nicolas Maduro appointed Major General Manuel Quevedo of the country’s national guard to head PDVSA.
Last week six executives of Citgo were arrested on corruption charges.