By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Venezuela’s Comptroller General Manuel Galindo said Friday during a live television interview that his office is actively investigating sitting cabinet members.
The official even said that he is collaborating with the opposition-controlled National Assembly, specifically with the Assembly’s Comptrollership Commission headed by Freddy Guevara, a former student leader who is generally considered an opposition firebrand.
President Nicolas Maduro and the Supreme Court are in a frank conflict with the Assembly and have been since the opposition won it in a landslide election December, so Galindo’s statements come as a surprise.
The exchange between the Assembly and the Comptroller General’s has been limited. “They have requested some very generic information about cases they are investigating,” was how Galindo explained it.
However, the Assembly and Argentina’s Anti-Corruption office signed weeks ago an agreement to jointly investigate corruption during the Chavez-Kirchner era, so there’s a good chance whatever Galindo is giving the opposition lawmakers can be cross-checked with information coming out the fiercely anti-Kirchner government of President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires.
Galindo’s statements come on the same day OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro labeled Venezuela “the most corrupt country in the hemisphere right now.” Almagro did not specifically mention corruption in Venezuela during an interview with Spain’s state news service EFE but he criticized the fact that the country has political prisoners that are often tortured or subjected to degrading treatment and that Maduro and other branches of power do not recognize the the National Assembly as an elected, legitimate power.NO NAMES
“There are active ministers being investigated,” Galindo -- who has admitted to nepotism in his own office -- told interviewer Vladimir Villegas during the “Vladimir a la 1” noon television show.
However, Galindo did not name any names and there are currently 31 ministers in embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet.
“Any minister or lawmaker can be the object of an investigation about his tenure," Galindo added.
"However, we are all innocent until proven otherwise. We will not publicly air the accusations we are investigating because we are serious.”CHAVEZ-KIRCHNER ERA
With our without Galindo’s help, Venezuela and Argentina have been investigating, jointly, corruption cases that allegedly took place during the time Hugo Chavez was President and one of the Kirchners sat in Buenos Aires’ Casa Rosada.
There could be $80 billion of “ dubious origin” stashed away in Argentina, a Venezuelan lawmaker told the Latin American Herald Tribune
earlier this week. That’s only 20%, however, of the estimated $400 billion that has been stolen from 1999 to this date, according to Venezuela's opposition.