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Montevideo, May 24th 2024 - 16:32 UTC



Disgraced former Venezuelan Oil Minister placed under arrest

Tuesday, April 9th 2024 - 22:00 UTC
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El Aissami's career took off when he was mentored by former President Hugo Chávez's brother Adán El Aissami's career took off when he was mentored by former President Hugo Chávez's brother Adán

Venezuelan authorities Tuesday arrested former Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami in a corruption probe after about one year at large following his resignation. When making the announcement, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said the former official intended to dent the country's economy.

Saab spoke of a conspiracy with serious potential consequences given Washington's unilateral measures against Caracas' regime.

El Aissami's front man Samark Lopez and former Economy Minister Simón Alejandro Zerpa were also detained after following leads disclosed by “at least five witnesses.”

According to local media, El Aissami, who held the position of chairman of Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA among other achievements during his career, faces charges of treason, appropriation or distraction of public patrimony, boasting or valuing relations or influences, capital legitimization and illicit association.

“It was possible to detect and dismember a network of officials who used their positions to carry out illegal oil operations,” Saab explained. The outlaw organization sought to drive the parallel dollar upward.

El Aissami is a 49-year-old lawyer and criminologist who graduated with honors from the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA). He was born in El Vigía, Mérida state, where he grew up in a humble family of immigrants from Syria and Lebanon.

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Photo: Venezuela's Public Ministry

Tareck is the second of five siblings. His father Carlos Zaidan El Aissami, a Syrian migrant, was head of the Venezuelan section of the Ba'ath Arab Socialist political party of Iraq, the same to which former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein belonged. His uncle Shibli El Aissami was an official under Hussein.

El Aissami was since his younger years a militant in the left wing of the Chavist MVR which eventually merged with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). His career took off when he was mentored by Adán Chávez, a brother of the late Bolivarian leader.

In an interview with Buenos Aires' Clarín a few years ago, analyst Joseph Humire, director of the Center of Studies for a Free and Secure Society, stated that El Aissami had been behind the infiltration into Venezuela of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRG) of Iran, both of which engaged in illicit activities such as drug trafficking and arms sales.

According to Humire, El Aissami was linked to “a criminal terrorist network made up of more than 40 companies throughout Latin America to send illicit money to the Middle East. This network would be managed by his brother, Feras El Aissami.”

In March 2019, El Aissami was arraigned before a Manhattan federal court for drug trafficking, together with Samark López. The US Treasury Department said El Aissami protected and supervised large drug shipments from Venezuela to Mexico and the United States. And the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) added him to its most-wanted list.

On March 18 last year, Venezuelan Police arrested Joselit Ramírez, head of the National Superintendence of Crypto-assets (Sunacrip) and director of El Aissami's Office for the disappearance of US$ 3,500 million from oil revenues. Ramírez is said to be one of El Aissami's persons of trust, who is also wanted by US authorities.

Colonel Antonio Pérez Suárez and Lieutenant Colonel José Ramos Chirinos were also arrested in the operation, as well as Deputy Hugbel Roa, all of them believed to belong to El Aissami's political circle.

This operation had the support of Deputy Diosdado Cabello, on behalf of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

A witness whose identity remained undisclosed for security reasons said that a foreign company involved in PDVSA's crude oil operations was assigned 15 vessels, at a value of over US$ 153 million. The witness claims to have paid US$ 22 million in cash to Pérez Suárez in addition to describing a system of bribes and kickbacks to expedite crude oil shipments. He also mentioned payments to El Aissami and Ramírez totaling millions of dollars.

“The assignments for the sale of Venezuelan crude oil were made, some with the knowledge of El Aissami and others were made by Pérez Suárez in clandestine meetings in his office where he agreed on the sale at prices up to three quarters below the value of the product, generating losses to the Venezuelan State. Pérez Suárez worked with businessmen who gave him invoices with inflated amounts for services or works carried out for PDVSA, to later share these overprices. An office called 'Special Work Unit' was created, which was in charge of making up the accounts to circumvent the audits of the Vice-Presidency of Finance. This witness reports that with the different fraudulent profit schemes applied, Perez Suarez took possession of a fortune amounting to billions of dollars,” Saab also pointed out.

“The objective and purpose of this mafia, headed by Tareck El Aissami, was none other than to implode the national economy, destroy our currency by pushing up the parallel dollar, and thus make the economic policies promoted by the Executive fail,” he went on.

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  • imoyaro

    Funny, it's always great to see them eat themselves...

    Apr 10th, 2024 - 03:21 am 0
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