The Public Ministry announced this Tuesday (9) the arrest of Tareck El Aissami, former Minister of Oil and former president of the state oil company PDVSA. He is accused of participating in a corruption scheme.

According to the Attorney General of the Republic, Tarek William Saab, Aissami resigned from his position 1 year ago, was collaborating with the investigations and, now, robust evidence has been collected against him. Saab said that the second phase of the PDVSA Cripto operation produced evidence linking the former minister and others involved with the corruption scheme at the state-owned company.

Also arrested were the former Minister of Economy and former president of the Social Development Fund, Simón Alejandro Zerpa, and the president of the digital bank Bancamiga, Samark López Bello. They would be responsible for the financial operations of the scheme.

“This case began in March 2023. It was possible to detect and dismantle a network of employees, many of them presidents of PDVSA, who used their positions to carry out illegal oil operations. This was done through the transfer of crude oil cargoes to the Superintendency Nacional de Criptoativos and to individuals, without any type of administrative control or guarantees, failing to comply with Petróleos de Venezuela’s hiring regulations”, said the attorney general.

They will have to give testimony this Tuesday. The first phase of the operation began in early 2023 and revealed the corruption scheme.

According to the head of the MP, Aissami started the scheme after taking over the Alí Rodríguez Araque Commission, the group responsible for restructuring the Venezuelan state-owned company. He allegedly shipped crude oil and petroleum products “without any administrative process”. Aissami is also accused of coordinating the opening of an intermediary company abroad to buy these products from PDVSA and resell them.

Tarek William Saab also said that 15 ships were placed under the management of a company worth US$153 million (around R$766 million). In total, 54 people were arrested and will face charges of treason, appropriation of public assets, legitimization of capital, criminal association and influence peddling.

In his testimony, the prosecutor said that the group’s objective was “to implode the national economy, destroy our currency, push the price of the parallel dollar up and sabotage economic policies.”

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho


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