– This is the first time I’ve heard of her.
This is how Andres Muzo reacted when the news agency The Associated Press tapped. He lives at the address listed by one of the now-searched oil trading companies, Walker International, as his residence in Venezuela.
Walker bought the oil for $77 million but did not pay. Now the tracks end in Muzo’s garage, which is sublet.
– They store tools there, we don’t know any more.
More than 240 billion
Especially since the United States imposed sanctions due to the lack of democracy in Venezuela, a large part of the oil trade has been taken over by fairly unknown companies. Oil is delivered to unknown destinations on the other side of the world’s oceans – and a lot of money disappears on the way, or already with shady middlemen in Venezuela.
Documents reviewed by the AP show that in August last year, $10.1 billion and $13.3 billion were lost, respectively, after unpaid oil sales at state-run PDVSA and the government. Today, that equates to a total of more than SEK 240 billion.
For many years now, Venezuelans have been concerned about corruption, and that many people in power embezzle money when they can. But the authoritarian Maduro has presidential elections coming up next year, and now he’s eager to show his strength against the mold.
Be a major player
So far, 42 high-ranking businessmen and officials have been arrested on suspicion of shady dealings related to the oil trade. Among those close to the powerful oil minister, Tarek El Aissami – who is believed to have been behind his abrupt resignation last week.
“As a revolutionary fighter, I place myself at the disposal of the party to support this crusade that the president is carrying out,” El Aissami wrote on Twitter when he announced his resignation.
Experts see the news as a shock, and are now awaiting further evidence of the power struggle apparently taking place within the system.
El Aissami was a key player in the Maduro government’s strategy to avoid sanctions. This person knows where all the “bodies” are buried, said Jeff Ramsey of the Atlantic Council, so seeing where he goes could be critical.
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