Venezuelan authorities on Thursday announced they have arrested a senior executive of a subsidiary of state oil firm PDVSA in an ongoing corruption probe, according to Reuters.
Francisco Jimenez – the head of PDVSA’s procurement arm Bariven – and two other Bariven executives were arrested on Tuesday at PDVSA’s headquarters in Caracas.
Bariven handles the overseas purchases of equipment and materials for the petroleum, petrochemical and hydrocarbons industries.
An investigation by the US Department of Justice saw two businessmen plead guilty last year under America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to bribing PDVSA officials to win inflated contracts for Bariven.
Properly called Petroleos de Venezuela SA, PDVSA has submitted its own motion in US court calling for the two businessmen to pay back the oil company $600m it claims it suffered in losses because of the bribery.
PDVSA is troubled on many fronts, including facing allegations of widespread corruption and failing to meet financial commitments to oil suppliers.
Despite being the sole rights holder of Venezuela’s huge oil resources – many of them offshore – PDVSA has been hamstrung by the plunge in oil prices and the deterioration of its capital infrastructure which has seen significant drop-off in the quality of its product.
Last month PDVSA was blocked from using an oil storage facility on the Caribbean island of St Eustatius because of unpaid bills.
Recently the company has been struggling to make bondholder payments. A 2020 bond payment that was due last week was only paid this week, several days late.