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Venezuela Arrests Top Citgo Executives


Venezuela's chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab gestures as he talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 2, 2017.

Venezuelan authorities arrested the acting president of Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), along with five other senior executives Tuesday for alleged corruption.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab told a press conference that interim president Jose Pereira and other managers allegedly arranged contracts that put Citgo at a disadvantage. The company operates refineries in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana with a capacity of 749,000 barrels per day.

A Citgo refinery in Romeoville, Illinois, near Chicago, is shown on March 3, 2005.
A Citgo refinery in Romeoville, Illinois, near Chicago, is shown on March 3, 2005.

"They did it with total discretion, without even coordinating with the competent authorities," Saab said. “This is corruption, corruption of the most rotten kind."

The six were accused of misappropriation of public funds, association to commit crimes and legitimation of capital, among other crimes.

The other five detainees were identified as Tomeu Vadell, vice president of Refining Operations; Alirio Zambrano, vice president and general manager of the Corpus Christi Refinery; Jorge Toledo, Vice President of Supply and Marketing; Gustavo Cardenas, Vice President of Strategic Relations with Shareholders and Government, and Jose Luis Zambrano; Vice President of Shared Services.

The corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela Nov. 16, 2017.
The corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela Nov. 16, 2017.

Last month, a senior executive of PDVSA and a dozen officials were arrested for alleged embezzlement.

But members of the Venezuelan opposition argue that recent investigations do not demonstrate a genuine intention of the government to eradicate corruption, but only reflect internal struggles of PDVSA.

VOA Latin America contributed to this report.

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