CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan anti-corruption police have arrested a mayor, two judges and a government official on corruption charges related to unusual operations in the ruling party, state television said on Monday.
The arrest of a government official for corruption is rare in Venezuela’s public administration, which rights groups such as Transparency International have described as opaque.
Police arrested the former head of the crypto-asset watchdog Joselit Ramirez and Mayor Pedro Hernandez of Las Tejerias, an area hit by floods that killed dozens late last year. Judges Cristobal Cornieles and Jose Marquez Garcia were also detained, according to a statement broadcast on TV.
Neither the charges not the specific corruption cases were officially disclosed.
Venezuela’s State Prosecutor’s office said on Sunday it had appointed five prosecutors to investigate the cases, adding the “crimes correspond to different branches of government and involve strategic sectors for national development.”
It did not give more details.
Ramirez had since 2018 led the Sunacrip crypto-assets authority, which is in charge of issuing Venezuela’s official digital coin, the petro.
According to a statement in the official gazette on Saturday, he was dismissed and the president appointed a board to restructure the body.
Pro-government newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported that Ramirez is under investigation for cases linked to state oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
The arrest marks one the largest since 2017, when the Prosecutor’s Office carried out several months of sweeps, arresting several executives and two former presidents of PDVSA.
In 2018, authorities also arrested several PDVSA executives for administrative irregularities which affected the operations of crude upgraders, without giving more details. One later died in prison.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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Source: The Print