Venezuela Nabs 21 Officials, Businessmen Linked To Crypto-Related Oil Scheme, 11 More On Wanted List

Photo: DNYUZ


An anti-corruption investigation in Venezuela has led to the arrest of 21 businessmen and officials and put 11 others on the wanted list over a cryptocurrency-related oil scheme.


Mar 27, 2023

The alleged scheme, according to Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, involved selling the country’s oil using Venezuela’s crypto oversight agency in connection with Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), the state-owned oil and natural gas company.

The probe started in October last year and is centered on PDVSA, the judiciary, and Sunacrip, the country’s cryptocurrency watchdog. It led to the arrest of 10 government officials and 11 businessmen.

The government also released arrest warrants for 11 other individuals supposedly involved in the said oil scheme.

The attorney general did not reveal the names of the companies or the details of the exact scope of the supposed scheme but said that Sunacrip was designated oil cargoes for sale but it lacked administrative control, allowing receivers to buy cargoes without making any payment, or registered ones.

Without mentioning the amounts involved, Saab alleged that the crypto oversight agency signed contracts for loading crude on ships “without any type of administrative control or guarantees,” violating regulations.

When the oil was marketed, “the corresponding payments were not made” to the state oil company,” he shared.

“We are talking about one of the most lurid plots in recent years, which involves officials, businessmen who benefited from corruption and young people – including the so-called mafia women – who participated in corruption and money laundering,” the attorney general said at a press conference last week.

He also revealed that they arrested 10 officials, including Col. Antonio Pérez Suárez, the vice president of trade and quality supply at PDVSA; Hugbel Roa, the former minister of food; and Joselit Ramírez, the national superintendent of cryptocurrencies.

Saab’s office has looked into more than 31 cases related to oil corruption, which indicted nearly 200 individuals and led to the arrest as well as the removal of a handful of government officials and businessmen.

Days before the attorney general’s statement, the country’s Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, who served the Venezuelan government for a couple of decades, filed his resignation over allegations of corruption against some of his close associates.

El Aissami explained that his resignation was to “accompany and fully support” the probe currently being conducted by the attorney general’s office. The former oil minister, known to be one of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s trusted ministers, is not facing any charges at the moment.

The president, who said he has been directly supervising the investigation, appointed Pedro Tellechea, who used to be the head of PDVSA, as the country’s new oil minister following El Aissami’s resignation.

Venezuela is one of the world‘s top countries with the largest petroleum reserves but corruption has been rampant in the country and officials often get away with it since they are rarely held accountable for their actions.

Read More: DNYUZ – Venezuela Nabs 21 Officials, Businessmen Linked To Crypto-Related Oil Scheme, 11 More On Wanted List

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