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  HOME | Bolivia

Bolivia’s YPFB Hit by Corruption, Sexual-Harassment Scandal

LA PAZ – An influence-peddling and sexual harassment scandal erupted Friday at Bolivian state-run natural gas producer YPFB amid an exchange of accusations involving CEO Carlos Villegas and a former company press officer.

The energy firm said in a statement Friday that it “thwarted a clan of relatives and friends who formed several companies” to win contracts.

Two YPFB executives and four individuals from the private sector have been arrested for alleged influence-peddling and illicit enrichment to the detriment of the state, YPFB said.

Prosecutor Leopoldo Ramos told reporters that he is investigating alleged irregularities in the awarding of advertising and event organization contracts that may have defrauded the state of between $360,000 and $430,000.

Among the detainees is YPFB’s former press officer, Selva Camacho, an erstwhile close associate of Villegas who is accused of concealing family ties to companies that won contracts with the state-owned company.

Camacho denied the allegations on Thursday, telling reporters at a police lockup that Villegas was taking revenge on her and accusing the chief executive of sexually harassing her on several occasions.

Villegas, YPFB’s CEO since 2009, responded by issuing a statement insisting his conduct was “respectful” at all times and recalling that he had filed a defamation complaint against Camacho in September after she had previously leveled those same accusations.

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