Venezuelan Government Continues Crackdown on Corruption

Yesterday Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that more public officials have been arrested in a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Two SENIAT officials are the latest employees of a government agency to be arrested under corruption charges (AVN)
Two SENIAT officials are the latest employees of a government agency to be arrested under corruption charges (AVN)

Mérida, 13th July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that more public officials have been arrested in a nationwide crackdown on corruption.

Two employees at the country's tax revenue service, the National Integrated Service for the Administration of Customs Duties and Taxes (SENIAT) have been arrested under allegations of extortion, Maduro told Venezuelan media Wednesday night.

“We have them behind bars,” Maduro stated.

Speaking at the city of Valera in Trujillo State, Maduro said that the arrests are the result of an investigation that was initiated after he was contacted by the head of SENIAT, José David Cabello.

According to Cabello, he contacted the president after members of the public denounced the alleged extortion ring.

The former head of Ferrominera Orinoco (FMO), Raddwan Sabbagh, was also arrested under allegations of criminal misconduct, Maduro said in the same address.

A subsidiary of the state-owned resource and industrial conglomerate Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), FMO is a major domestic producer of iron ore and other industrial materials. However, for the past two years the company has been running at a deficit, according to the Ministry of Industry.

Following the announcement, Maduro reiterated his administration's commitment to fighting corruption, “no matter who has to fall”.

“We cannot be tolerant of corruption, it would kill Chavez's revolution,” Maduro said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ilze Perozo Montoya was was found guilty of commiting fraud with public funds. Allegations of fraud against Perozo Montoya were first reported in July of 2009 in Zulia state, while Manuel Rosales was mayor of Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia. Rosales was a prominent member of the Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) political party and ran against Hugo Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections.

The court found that as head of the construction company Consperca, Perozo Montoya was responsible for her company's overvaluation of three construction contracts undertaken for the Zulia state government. Consperca was paid 5 million bolivars (US$ 793,000) for the contracts, which the company never fulfilled. The fraud took place while Rosales was governor of Zulia, and Perozo Montoya's husband, Julio Montoya, was a member of the National Assembly for the UNT.

A month after Perozo Montoya was accused, Rosales reportedly went into hiding, after he was charged with corruption.

Yesterday's events came on the heels of the arrest of Trino Martinez, an official at the Institute for the Defense of People's Access to Goods and Services (Indepabis), the government agency that regulates price controls.