Caracas, Venezuela , 17 January 2006 – In a press conference yesterday morning, Venezuelan Supreme Court judge Luis Velázquez Alvaray said misuse of funds had been found in the institution that administers the country’s court system, the Executive Directorate of the Magistrate (DEM). Despite this, Alvaray said, "We don’t have doubts about the operations of justice."
Alvaray is asking the Attorney General to find those responsible and to bring legal charges against them. Alvaray said such corruption would not be allowed and, "we are finishing with a relaxed administration."
The inconsistencies were discovered by the Venezuelan Comptroller General during an audit. They showed cases of embezzlement and fraud in administration going back to 2003. These included fictional students in Judicial training courses and overpricing.
The most striking example of corruption was $18.6 Million that was supposed to pay for improving a building called Torre Metrolimpo. The work on the improvements never began.
Alvaray said the worst aspect of this corruption was that it could have meant, "hold ups and cancellations of social previsions." Alvaray said the government is creating 15 anti-corruption tribunals to stop this from happening.
The decision to create these was taken by the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s Plenary Council in August 2005. These courts are expected to begin working in the next few months.
Venezuela has long had a culture of corruption and nepotism. It has been rated one of the worst countries in Latin America for corruption in a Corruptions Perception index by London-based NGO Transparency International since the Index began.