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Venezuela AG opens criminal probe into ex-oil minister

Staff Writer | December 13, 2017
Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab said that his office had opened a criminal investigation into former oil minister and ex-head of state oil company PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez, over documents he said show he illegally acted as an intermediary in oil sales.
Rafael Ramirez
LatAm   Ramirez stepped down from his position
“We’ve decided to open a criminal investigation... into Rafael Ramirez... because in one of the documents we found that Diego Salazar specifically cites him as his direct partner in oil sale intermediation operations,” Saab said in a press conference.

The top prosecutor said the investigation was part of a probe the AG’s office is carrying out into the use of Andorran lender Banca Privada D’Andorra to launder some 4.2 billion euros ($5 billion) in state oil funds since 2006.

Salazar, a cousin of Ramirez’s who also formerly worked at PDVSA and has been arrested for alleged corruption and money laundering, was found in an Andorran court document dated November 30, 2012, to have pointed to his relative as his partner in the intermediation operations, Saab said.

The Venezuelan AG’s office found that document in a safe-deposit box during a series of raids on Salazar’s properties, Saab said.

Ramirez stepped down from his position as Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations on December 4, saying in a letter that leftist President Nicolas Maduro had asked him to resign.