Venezuelan oil minister resigns amid crackdown
On Monday, Venezuela’s National Anti-Corruption Police arrested a mayor, two judges, and three government officials as part of an investigation into public officials in the oil industry, the justice system, and municipalities
March 21, 2023 8:44am
Updated: March 21, 2023 9:18am
Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami announced his resignation on Monday after at least six officials were arrested in a corruption probe of the state oil industry.
"In light of the investigations that have begun about serious occurrences of corruption at PDVSA, I have taken the decision to present my resignation as Minister of Oil, with the intent to support, accompany, and totally back this process," El Aissami said on Twitter.
On Monday, Venezuela’s National Anti-Corruption Police arrested a mayor, two judges, and three government officials as part of an investigation into public officials in the oil industry, the justice system, and municipalities.
Two of those arrested are connected with the state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA): Colonel Antonio Perez, former vice president in charge of commerce and supply at PDVSA, and Colonel Samuel Testamarck, general manager of PDVSA’s maritime arm PDV Marina.
According to one of the sources, the arrests are connected to an investigation into oil cargoes leaving the South American country without making proper payments.
Additionally, Las Tejerías Mayor Pedro Hernandez and the former head of Venezuela's crypto-asset watchdog Joselit Ramirez were also arrested.
Venezuela’s prosecutor’s office said on Sunday that it was investigating crimes in different branches of government connected to “strategic sectors.” Attorney General Tarek William Saab said more officials are expected to be detained in the following weeks.
“I assure you, even more so at this moment, when the country calls not only for justice but also for the strengthening of the institutions, we will apply the full weight of the law against these individuals,” Saab said.
El Aissami, who has been minister since 2020, was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2017 for alleged connections to drug trafficking.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, “he oversaw or partially owned narcotics shipments of over 1,000 kilograms from Venezuela on multiple occasions, including those with the final destinations of Mexico and the United States.”