Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Eulogio del Pino and Nelson Martinez, both of whom have served in the posts of oil minister and head of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., were taken into custody over the past 24 hours
CARACAS – Venezuelan authorities have arrested a pair of former senior oil officials as part of an anti-corruption crackdown, the attorney general said Thursday.
Tarek William Saab announced at a press conference that Eulogio del Pino and Nelson Martinez, both of whom have served in the posts of oil minister and head of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., were taken into custody over the past 24 hours.
“On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning ... a series of arrests were made” in connection with a probe of oil industry corruption, Saab said.
In August, leftist President Nicolas Maduro announced that he was swapping the two officials, with Martinez moving from his position as oil minister to become PDVSA chief and Del Pino ceasing to be the head of the state oil company to take over the oil portfolio.
But on Sunday Maduro replaced both men, naming National Guard Maj. Gen. Manuel Quevedo as head of both the ministry and PDVSA and saying the move was part of a complete restructuring of Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant.
Martinez was arrested for allegedly participating in an arrangement to refinance the debt of Citgo Petroleum Corp. – PDVSA’s largest subsidiary in the United States – without obtaining prior government approval.
Executives of Houston-based Citgo who were arrested last week in connection with that same debt deal told investigators that Martinez also was aware of the contract, according to Saab.
Del Pino, for his part, was arrested for his alleged role in corruption and sabotage schemes at Petrozamora (a joint venture between PDVSA and Russia’s Gazprom) that led to losses estimated at around 15 million barrels of oil between 2015 and 2017, the attorney general said.