Crime & Justice

13 More arrested in Venezuela’s anti-corruption drive

Caracas, Apr 5 (EFE).- Thirteen public officials arrested as part of the government’s anti-corruption campaign were arraigned early Wednesday, Venezuela’s communications minister said.

The defendants appeared in court “for their connection to the corruption schemes in Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) and Carton de Venezuela,” Freddy Ñañez said on Twitter.

CVG is a state-owned mining and industrial conglomerate based in the southeastern state of Bolivar, while Carton de Venezuela (CartoVen) is the country’s largest producer of paper and cardboard.

Among those arraigned were CVG’s chief executive, Pedro Maldonado; vice president for planning, Edgar Sanchez; vice president for iron and steel, Felipe Contreras; and head of legal affairs, Isaac Salazar, Ñañez said.

Nestor Astudillo, who heads CVG’s steelmaking unit, Sidor, was also brought before a judge.

State television reported on the arrests of Hugo Cabezas, described as “linked” to CartoVen, and three judiciary employees, two of them assistants to Judge Jose Mascimino Marquez, already in custody.

Last Sunday, Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced the detention of two members of CVG’s board of directors days after the National Anti-corruption Police asked prosecutors to charge a “group of officials” at the conglomerate with “serious acts of administrative corruption and diversion of funds.”

The law enforcement agency signaled the crackdown in a March 17 statement calling for prosecution of an unspecified number of citizens “who exercise functions in the judiciary, in the oil industry, and in several municipal administrations.”

Venezuela boasts the world’s largest proven reserves of petroleum and the national economy depends on the oil industry. EFE sc/dr

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