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Top State Food Functionaries Arrested for Embezzlement

Caracas, February 2nd 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Three top officials in key Venezuelan state food corporations have been arrested for embezzling millions of bolivars - after it emerged that they had been illegally selling subsidised items to private sector restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets for huge personal profit.

On Sunday night, Interior Minister Gustavo González Lopez revealed that the ex-president of CVAL (Venezuelan Food Corporation), Herbert Aguilar, along with the CVAL administrative director, Barbara Figueroa, and the former president of Abastos Bicentenario, Barbara Gonzalez, will all stand trial for embezzlement and speculation.

The scam was revealed during an investigation led by the National Anti-Corruption Body, which found millions of bolivars in the residences and offices of the accused. 

Forty public servants have also been detained in connection with the operation and twelve are still wanted for arrest.

“All of these citizens took advantage of the Bolivarian government’s food security policies, destined to guarantee food consumption for Venezuela’s poorest families. They diverted food from the people to the commercial private networks… which sell these products at speculative prices as part of an economic sabotage,” stated Lopez. 

The price between government regulated food items and those sold on the private market is currently at an all time high, thanks to a disastrous combination of falling national revenue, rising inflation and currency devaluation.

Although the government’s food corporations and institutions are designed to protect Venezuelan families from the worst of the economic crisis, state institutions have been hit hard by a phenomenon known as bachaqueo - or the reselling of subsidised items at a higher price on the illegal market, causing scarcity and speculation.  

Sunday’s announcement is the first time that bachaqueo has been confirmed in the upper echelons of state institutions, and is one of the government’s most significant arrests since its anti-corruption drive began in 2014.

“There is no other name for them than traitors, they were taking advantage of activities that had been entrusted to them for personal gain,” added Lopez on state television. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for a thorough investigation to whittle corruption out of state institutions. 

“They will fall, one by one,” he stated. 

Published on Feb 2nd 2016 at 7.59pm