Venezuela’s anti-corruption crusade: Key themes and policy considerations
By La Tabla
Translated from Spanish by Tortilla con Sal
Sunday, Oct 29, 2017
|Since the middle of August this year, the Attorney General designated by the National Constituent Assembly, Tarek William Saab, has led what can now be seen clearly as an anti corruption crusade.
A review of his work so far makes it possible to identify the criminal activities facing Venezuela and the policy proposals guiding the investigating authority which have disconcerted the political opposition who had exploited corruption accusations politically.
Principal criminal activities
- Exchange rate fraud by importers using foreign currency assigned by the Commission for Foreign Currency Administration (Cadivi) and the National Center for Foreign Trade (Cencoex).
- Embezzlement of the PDVSA state oil company via overpricing of contracts in foreign currencies involving joint venture companies in the Orinoco Oil Belt.
- Sabotage of oil production by Orinoco Oil Belt companies and the Petrozamora company so as to generate emergency contracts and favor particular suppliers.
- Extortion rings within the Public Prosecution service and other institutions of the legal system, providing cover for organizations and criminal activities, for example the relationship between the lawyer José Rafael Parra Saluzzo and the office of the former Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz.
- Organizations involved in processing and trafficking public works contracts, for example the case of bribes by the Brazilian construction engineering company Odebrecht.
- Money laundering, for example the cases involved in the Panama Papers, that of the Banca Privada de Andorra, and also Parra Saluzzo’s firm of lawyers.
- Economic crimes against Venezuela’s consumers, like hoarding of foodstuffs and price gouging, some of which are also linked to long standing import fraud involving foreign currency abuses.
- Theft, trafficking and smuggling of spare parts and components made of copper, aluminium or alloys, affecting important state companies like PDVSA, the Corpoelec electricity company, the Cantv telephone company and state companies in industries like iron and steel or bauxite and aluminium.
- The victims of all these crimes are the Venezuelan people and their Bolivarian Revolution.
- Investigations show that the perpetrators and beneficiaries of these crimes are groups of the traditional middle classes allied with mafia style organizations.
- These criminal alliances compromised and bribed government officials and functionaries in the legal system. These activities caused severe damage to the morale and integrity of the revolutionary process with evidence indicating they were encouraged and aided by US intelligence agencies, as in the cases of former government Ministers Hebert García Plaza or Miguel Rodríguez Torres.
- The omission and complicity in these activities of the Public Prosecutor’s office during the long period during which it was headed by Luisa Ortega Díaz lead to impunity which was the opposition exploited politically, facilitated corruption instigated by the private sector and assisted the international offensive against Venezuela led by the United States.
- Corruption has been a strategic central component of the unconventional war waged against the Bolivarian government.
- The impunity around these activities has had a very negative political impact especially among people at grass roots who support Chavismo. There is clear awareness of the damage these practices caused to the national economy and how they have been responsible for the scarcities and speculation people in Venezuela have experienced daily since 2014.
- Fighting against corruption is not just an imperative survival measure against attacks from the region’s hegemonic bloc. It is also indispensable as a unifying factor to ensure social and political stability. It is a collective objective beyond party political positions and opinions.
- A minimum general consensus is needed, like the comprehensive operations carried out in countries like China and Italy, among others, so as to guarantee a national program to investigate, punish and eradicate corrupt practices.
Original Spanish language URL
Translated to English by Tortilla con Sal
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