CARACAS – The top six executives at Citgo, the US unit of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, were arrested on corruption charges, the Andean nation’s attorney general said on Tuesday.
The accused signed contracts that “compromised the national patrimony and the future of this important subsidiary,” Tarek William Saab said.
Taken into custody along with Citgo Petroleum chief executive Jose Angel Pereira Ruimwyk were five company vice presidents: Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo, Gustavo Cardenas and Jose Luis Zambrano.
All six are accused of embezzling public funds, money laundering and criminal conspiracy, among other offenses.
The accusations spring from debt-refinancing contracts Citgo signed on July 15 with Frontier Group Management and Apollo Global Management, Saab said.
The defendants effectively put up Citgo as collateral for loans to PDVSA on unfavorable terms while arranging for intermediaries to collect millions of dollars in commissions, the attorney general said.
PDVSA acquired a 50 percent interest in 1986 in Citgo, which was founded in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1910, and the remainder of the stock four years later.
Citgo has a vast network of service stations and operates refineries in Texas, Illinois and Louisiana with a capacity of about 750,000 barrels per day.