Venezuela to investigate ex-oil tsar over corruption

Venezuela"s former oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, completely new York, U.S., September 20, 2016Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Rafael Ramirez was a close associate of former Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez

The Venezuela authorities say they are opening a corruption investigation into one of the country’s most influential political figures, the former oil minister Rafael Ramirez.

Mr Ramirez ran the state oil company, PDVSA, for 12 years until 2014.

Last week he was sacked via his post as ambassador to the UN, as well as left the US for an undisclosed third country.

He has been tipped as a potential presidential candidate in next year’s elections. He denies any wrongdoing.

“We have decided to open a criminal investigation of Rafael Ramirez, ex oil minister as well as ex president of PDVSA,” said Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab in a televised address.

He said the Panama Papers, leaked last year, held compromising information about Mr Ramirez as well as his cousin Diego Salazar, who was arrested This specific month.

The investigation into Mr Ramirez’s activities appears to be part of a corruption purge at PDVSA. Sixty-all 5 people have been arrested there for corruption inside last few months.

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In recent weeks, Rafael Ramirez publically criticised the current administration’s handling of Venezuela’s deep economic crisis saying he had anticipated the item nevertheless was ignored.

In a newspaper, he wrote: “I am disappointed that will no kind of constructive criticism will be allowed.

“will be the item ethical to remain silent?”

Between 2004 as well as 2014 Mr Ramirez became the most visible face of Venezuela’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s oil sector nationalizations which boosted state control over the industry.

The oil bonanza of that will period largely financed the social programmes that will cemented Mr Chavez’s power.

Mr Ramirez was very close to Mr Chavez as well as was on hand inside last moments before he died.

nevertheless he clashed with Mr Chavez’s appointed successor, Nicolás Maduro, as well as was named foreign minister as well as then sent to completely new York as a United Nations ambassador.

There his profile was lowered, although he vehemently defended Venezuela inside UN via what the Maduro administration considered “attacks” led by the US.

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