Former Minister Presents Alleged Cases of Corruption by Top Officials Before National Assembly

Ex-minister Héctor Navarro spoke before legislators Wednesday to denounce alleged cases of corruption by government officials.

By JEANETTE CHARLES AND LUCAS KOERNER

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Former Minister of Electrical Energy and Education Héctor Navarro (Aporrea tvi)
Former Minister of Electrical Energy and Education Héctor Navarro (Aporrea tvi)
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Los Angeles, April 14, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - On Wednesday, former Minister of Electrical Energy and Education Héctor Navarro denounced the alleged embezzlement of more than USD$300 billion by high ranking public officials in a meeting with the National Assembly’s Permanent Public Spending Commission. 

Navarro referred to the alleged misappropriation of funds as “vulgar and the statistics are obscene”. During his presentation, Navarro turned in a CD with a list of individuals implicated in these alleged cases of corruption.

The ex-minister claims that the majority of these cases are related to import fraud, in which state dollars allocated to importers were lost without any record of actual goods entering the country. He alleged that these losses "coincide with the growth of Venezuelan bank accounts abroad". 

Navarro was accompanied by former Planning Minister Jorge Giordani who President Maduro replaced in 2014. Similarly Giordani has denounced corruption in the management of state dollars during his nearly twelve year tenure.

Among the individuals Navarro recommended that the National Assembly investigate included former officials of the the Commission of the Administration for Currency Exchange (Cadivi) and the System for Foreign Currency Denominated Securities (Sitme) among others.

Navarro also referred to corruption within the state supermarket chain, Abastos Bicentenario. In February, 55 employees of Abastos Bicentenario were arrested in an anti-corruption raid. 

Moreover, Navarro emphasized that his call for a thorough investigation into these corruption allegations comes after President Nicolás Maduro’s denounced “theft” within the government.

Earlier this year, President Maduro announced a series of economic measures to radically transform the country’s state institutions with the objective to truly serve the Venezuelan people and not be used as sources of revenue for corrupt government officials.

"We are joining the President’s demand and that of other citizens to proceed with the consequences for these acts,” he said.

In particular, Nevarro called for the investigation of ex-Food Minister Carlos Osorio, who held the post from 2010 and 2013, during which period, the bulk of state dollars in question allegedly disappeared. Osorio was not investigated during February's anti-corruption drive despite the arrest of high food ministry officials such as Abastos Bicentenario President Barbara Gonzalez. 

These allegations come amid a challenging environment in Venezuela as the government looks to rectify inflation, tackle scarcity of products and build an alternative economy to a formerly thriving oil industry. 

“Corruption is an act against socialism,” Navarro exclaimed. “The act of corruption always has two extremes, those that carry it out and those that benefit from it,” he continued.

Following his testimony before the comission, Navarro received praise from socialist lawmaker Eustoquio Contreras, who called for unity to "ethically heal the institutions" and promised future sessions to "analyze the presented data and the possible culprits and their punishments". 

On September 18, 2015, Navarro requested that the government investigate “the exceptional corruption committed by Public Power entities.” However, the Moral Republican Council declined to investigate these claims prompting Navarro's decision to testify before the National Assembly.

On Thursday, Venezuela's Comptroller General announced that several government ministers are currently under investigation for corruption, particularly with regard to the diversion of resources destined for housing construction. 

No further details have yet been released.