Mexico City, Mexico, October 25, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced the issuing of 25 international arrest warrants for individuals allegedly involved in corruption at agrochemical company Monómeros.
Considered Venezuela’s second most important foreign-held asset, the Colombia-based agrochemical producer came under the control of Venezuela’s hardline opposition following the recognition of Juan Guaidó as “interim president” by Washington and its allies in 2019 as part of efforts to oust the Nicolás Maduro government.
The Venezuelan government accuses the opposition-appointed board of Monómeros of deliberate mismanagement, driven by political interests, leading to a loss of market share and productive capacity.
Following the restoration of diplomatic and economic relations with Colombia, the Venezuelan government officially took over the company in September.
Saab expressed hope that Colombia, now governed by President Gustavo Petro, would cooperate with the extradition of people facing charges in Venezuela but added that Venezuelan authorities would pursue the accused regardless of their whereabouts.
“Interpol cannot turn these corrupt and criminal subjects into political persecution victims,” said Saab, anticipating the likely defense of those being sought.
Venezuelan National Assembly President Jorge Rodríguez previously called on Colombia to extradite opposition leader Julio Borges over his alleged involvement in the August 4, 2018 assasination attempt against Maduro. Petro denied the request, saying his government would honor his political asylum in the country.
Unlike Borges, however, the former leadership of Monómeros, appointed by the opposition, does not currently count on asylum status in Colombia.
Among those believed to have benefited from the alleged embezzlement scheme at Monómeros is Camilo Uribe, brother of far-right former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. Colombian journalist María Jimena Duzán, a longtime critic of Uribe, wrote for Cambio Colombia that Uribe’s younger brother received “irregular payments” via a consulting firm known as Dorr Asset Management, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, a known money laundering hub.
Duzán claimed that the payments to Dorr Asset Management, which amount to over US$ 170,000, could not be substantiated and were approved without following standard protocols nor a formal contract. The alleged embezzlement was revealed in an April auditor’s report ordered by the now former board, appointed by the Guaidó-led opposition.
While run by successive opposition-appointed boards, Monómeros was plagued by scandals and corruption allegations, which severely impacted its output and generated serious problems for Colombia’s rural producers. The agrochemical company previously supplied nearly half of the fertilizers and 70 percent of the agrochemicals used by coffee, potato and palm oil production.
The company was also hurt by political infighting with rival anti-government groups within the opposition blaming each other for the company’s numerous problems. The family of Leopoldo López, Guaidó’s mentor, was likewise accused of taking advantage of the agrochemical company after it was revealed that his mother was given a lucrative contract.
The turmoil amidstVenezuelan opposition ranks reached new heights in recent weeks after three major opposition parties (Democratic Action, Justice First and A New Era) reportedly told Washington that they intend to withdraw their backing for the US-endorsed “interim government” led by Guaidó.
Meanwhile, Venezuela and Colombia have continued to strengthen bilateral relations. Earlier this month the parliaments of the two countries held a “Binational Meeting” in the border city of Cucutá, once the site of a US-sponsored coup attempt in 2019 that saw opposition supporters attempt to violate Venezuelan borders under the guise of delivering “humanitarian aid.”
After suffering some setbacks, aviation authorities also recently announced the approval of direct commercial flights between Venezuela and Colombia.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.